What sets a Citadel graduate apart?

As I reflect on members of the Class of 2003 now scattered across the country, I enjoy anticipating the impact they will have on life in America. More than 350 young men and women are now pursuing military careers, getting footholds in new jobs or preparing for graduate school. A number have added a wedding ring to their Citadel ring. Life for all has expanded so that evening study periods and Friday afternoon parades are memories of rituals they could not wait to leave behind yet are somehow comforting to recall.

Maj Gen John S. Grinalds
U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.)
President, The Citadel

A May graduate who could hardly wait for the time when he would be free from The Citadel returned to Bond Hall recently. Like many of his peers, he used a trip through Charleston to visit familiar haunts. This young man will be entering graduate school in August and although he was busy with a summer job, he nevertheless made time to stop by and say hello.

Did he miss The Citadel? "Not at all," he responded with no hesitation, obviously happy about life on his own. Yet there he stood in his old classroom building, casually dressed but impeccably groomed with the erect bearing and courteous manner typical of Citadel graduates. Those surface Citadel traits that accompany the ring are still very much a part of his personality and are qualities he will probably never abandon.

More important are the qualities beneath the surface that The Citadel experience has helped shape. I am confident that in the next ten years we will be reading about the accomplishments of members of the Class of 2003 since Citadel graduates are conditioned to be over-achievers. They will get promotions, earn advanced degrees and receive medals. They will also remember their part of the 33,800 community service hours the Corps performed in the past year and become volunteers in community, professional and religious groups.

They may test out living selfishly but will eventually realize that a lifestyle centered on their own needs and desires is not fulfilling because they already know the personal rewards of helping others. In the matter of ethics, they will be tested and while many may bend, very few will break. I am confident that, in the long run, these new graduates will do the right thing, remembering that they did not leave the honor code at Lesesne Gate. Leading a life that has no room for lying, cheating or stealing will be part of their character forever.

The Class of 2003 is ready to take on the world and the world will be better because of their involvement. That I know.