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An Appeal to The Citadel Family
On Saturday, September 9th, 2006, a new era will begin at The Citadel. The event looks innocuous, but it is nothing short of “landmark.” Our new home side to Johnson Hagood Stadium will debut as the second phase of a four-phase approach that should move The Citadel into the spectrum of unlimited possibilities. You are part of it.
Your new home side will feature chair-back seating and perhaps the most comfortable surroundings at this level of college football found anywhere in America. The new Daktronics scoreboard will feature a broad range of game-time entertainment, including video replay. The next two phases will enhance the ambience. A press box facility should be completed by our first home game of 2008. This facility will house suites, a clubroom facility, a kitchen, elevators, and a state-of-the-art pressroom. The final phase will feature the replacement of the East Side (visitor’s) stands, targeted for the next five years.
So why would I term September 9th as a landmark day in the annals of Citadel History? It has very little to do with football. It has everything to do with our collective view of our college and where its future lies. It goes without saying that the prospect of seeing progress lifts the spirits. We drive by Hagood Avenue and see tomorrow taking shape. I have received perhaps hundreds of comments and questions concerning this single phase of the construction. There’s excitement. There’s dialogue and opinion. As a college family, we had started to build this stadium four times since 1986. We also stopped three times. We had to tear the old one down first. This motivated many to be a part of the “tent revival.” So many of you came through with your ideas, your time, and your checkbooks; now it’s time to see the progress!
Football games form a vital part of our shared Citadel experience. We meet our classmates, our friends, and our family. We take our children. We immerse ourselves in Citadel Blue. In my very biased opinion, there is no college anywhere that can instill so much pride and passion—whether or not a W is posted—than The Citadel. We actually own an NCAA distinction of being the program that has the largest ratio of home attendance to graduates in all of college football! Take that, Clemson and USC!
There is so much more than football in a stadium. On any given Saturday, a friend embraces a friend again. A child looks up to a father. A grad slaps another grad on the shoulder. Smiles crawl upon the faces of happy people. A recruit sees first-hand the cohesion that is written about, but not experienced ‘til now. A corporate executive learns about our honor code. A veteran salutes our corps and our flag. The salutes of eighteen companies of young people who will change tomorrow are, in unison, returned. A widow of a soldier holds back her tears to listen to The Citadel Alma Mater. The band plays and the bagpipers capture the never-forgotten moments of our days as young people with the world ahead of us. The Boo III barks at our Bulldog Mascot. And the children run upon the field at game’s end to emulate their cadet heroes who have just given their all for their teammates and their classmates. This is our Citadel. There is no place like it on this Saturday or on any Saturday.
Yes, it is our Citadel. We own it. We are the attorneys and the generals, the retirees and the accountants. We took ownership when we sent in a check to make it better, whether it went to the Brigadier Club, to The Citadel Foundation, to the Library, or to the Stadium. The Citadel is an integral part of our lives. It is both an inflection and a genuflection. It is, indeed, a part of us.
This game that our gladiators play will be a reason for us to emerge from our diverse lives to march upon the field again. Our corps is both the old corps and the new corps. We all can see that better days are ahead with a better curriculum, a better campus, and better alumni to sustain it all.
My appeal to you is twofold. Come to the game on September 9th. Be a part of our new beginning. This stadium really does advance us in so many other ways than the tradition of Citadel Football. Secondly, our current mission to build this stadium needs you as much now as it did when the bulldozers showed up to knock the old one down.
The timeliness of showing your support for our Bulldogs could not be more critical. We are setting a good pace on this P.T. run, but we still have to run all the way back into the battalion and make some noise. Your commitment to The Citadel can up the decibel level. Once you see how far we have come already, I hope you will consider a gift to The Citadel Foundation to support the completion of what we have started in earnest.
Someday, there may be a corporate donor in one of our new suites who watches those prideful cadets march in and sees a proud family salute. Perhaps the donor will be impressed enough by our story and our honor code and our alumni to help us with an academic chair or a computer lab. Perhaps. We have so much for which to be thankful, so much of which to be proud. I’m counting on you. I thank you for counting on me.
For more information, please contact John McAleer,