Approximately 160 cadets commissioned into the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force this morning in VMI’s joint commissioning ceremony in Cameron Hall. Video of the full ceremony is available on VMI’s YouTube channel.
In his remarks, Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III ’62, Institute superintendent, noted that commissioning “is the fulfillment of one of the central and historic missions of Virginia Military Institute, which is the preparation of citizen-soldiers.”
And while commissioning at VMI is historically held the day before graduation, Peay reminded his listeners that commissioning and graduation mark not an end but a beginning.
“VMI is really a foundation, a starting point, from which you will grow and build your career,” he stated. “The Institute could not be more proud of you, your families are proud of you, and you can take just pride in your accomplishments.”
Administering the officers’ oath to the approximately 95 Army cadets was Lt. Gen. Theodore Martin, deputy commanding general and chief of staff, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. “You are signing up to defend our country and our way of life,” Martin told those about to commission.
“I ask you to do the right thing and treat everyone with dignity and respect, and that includes the enemy,” Martin stated. “Remember, the only way to lose the moral high ground is to give it up. The choice will always be yours.”
Maj. Gen. Daniel Yoo, commander, U.S. Marine Corps Special Operations Command, Camp Lejeune, N.C. administered the oath to those entering the Marine Corps.
“You are volunteering for service, sacrifice, and commitment,” Yoo told the just under 20 men and women about to become 2nd lieutenants in the Marine Corps. “In my humble opinion, [military service] is the purest form of citizenship anyone can have in our great country.”
“VMI is in the business of character development, like the Marine Corps. … Your worth as a military officer will be based on your personal ethics and the reputation you build. That reputation will be founded on the ethical ground that you walk,” Yoo concluded.
Administering the oath for those entering the Navy was Vice Admiral Andrew L. “Woody” Lewis, commander, Joint Forces Command Norfolk.
Lewis told those about to begin their Navy careers as ensigns that by taking the officers’ oath of allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, “you are giving testament that you are willing to commit yourselves and your God-given talents by serving others through service to our nation.”
The Navy has over 1 million enlisted personnel, Lewis noted, who need, want, and deserve quality leadership. “Nothing you do in uniform will be more important,” he stated.
“Today marks an inflection point in your life. …The leader you will become has been forged by your years here, but from this point forward it’s up to you.”
Just under 30 new second lieutenants in the Air Force took their commissioning oath from Lt. Gen. David D. Thompson, vice commander, Air Force Space Command, Washington, D.C.
As he began his remarks, Thompson asked those commissioning to consider the meaning of the last sentence of the oath of office: “I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office I am about to enter.”
Defining “well and faithfully” is not as difficult as it might seem, Thompson advised. “It’s an objective measure, even though there’s no number, there’s no score, there’s no percentage. You will not be graded on a curve.”
“Well and faithfully means working until the task is done. … It means doing the job the same way whether anyone is looking or not.”
Mary Price VMI Communications & Marketing