Remarks of Maj. Gen. Cedric Wins ’85 at Institute Society Dinner

Maj. Gen. Wins Institute Society Dinner Remarks


Published: Nov. 14, 2022

Transcript of Maj. Gen. Wins’ Remarks

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, and good evening to you. This is my second Institute Society Dinner and actually my second Founders Day, because for 34 years, you spent a lot of time traveling from place to place country to country. At some point in your life, the commitment to service takes hold. It probably didn’t take hold initially for me, when I went into the Army, it was my intent to go into the Army and just spend three years there. But you know, God has a way of doing things that you don’t plan for yourself, and that’s how it turned out for me, and so I’m thankful to once again be able to step into an opportunity to serve. And so that’s how I view what I’m doing now here in support of the Institute and in support of the cadets.

The Institute Society Dinner is a very special event to share with you, and so I want to express my gratitude for all you have done. You are certainly the top leadership donors in annual giving, and also some of the giants that have passed through Limits Gates, and so I want to thank you for all you do. And I would certainly want to thank you for all of your continued philanthropic support to VMI.

Your generous gifts steadfastly help the cadets and the program, and they maintain a value here for Virginia Military Instsitute. They certainly add that extra emphasis on a VMI diploma, so thank you for what you do.

I want to personally thank General and Mrs. Peay for their longstanding leadership and the tireless efforts that they’ve gone through for 17 plus years to improve VMI. Their vision, their collective vision has set the Institute on a strong path and placed us in a very, very strong position as we continue to advance the VMI mission into the future. So thank you both General and Mrs. Peay. Thank you.

Tonight, I want to share with you just one fundamental message. I just want to tell you that VMI is focused and will remain focused on what many of us recognize is our North Star that guidepost for all that we do. Colonel Preston’s inscription on the parapet continues to stand as the expression of our mission anchored in our past. This thread builds a common bond from one Cadet to the other, one class to another, one team to another, and one generation to another. This bond holds us together and holds us accountable for how we spend our time, both on and off post. Our faculty, our staff, and the Corps of Cadets remain focused on this mission. And the same one that you all held as cadets when you were going through VMI. As you can all probably quote, the parapet begins with, “The healthful and pleasant abode of a crowd of honorable youths.”

The cadets of today are as honorable and choose to take on the rigors of the VMI experience. They come here for many of the same reasons that you came here. Some want to test their limits in the self-imposed spartan lifestyle. Others want to excel in an NCAA sport, while others want to pursue a top-rated education in a first class academic environment, and obtain a commission in the military and go serve their country. No matter what motivated them to choose VMI, they are all members of the Corps of Cadets.

Many didn’t wish to be a number in a sea of students at a much larger university. We maintain advantages with our smaller size, and some of the very best facilities, equipment, and faculty members are here to support our cadets and to support their aspirations. These young adults here today subscribe to living an honorable life among their friends, among their families, and communities in the same vein as those who have gone before them.

"[The cadets of today] come here for many of the same reasons that you came here. Some want to test their limits in the self-imposed spartan lifestyle. Others want to excel in an NCAA sport, while others want to pursue a top-rated education in a first class academic environment, and obtain a commission in the military and go serve their country."

Maj. Gen. Cedric Wins ’85 Superintendent

Another phrase etched in our parapet is, “The healthful and pleasant abode.” Now it may be a stretch to find any cadet in the last 183 years, who would use those words pleasant abode to describe their time here at VMI. However, I can speak to an unwavering commitment to a healthy, tough, challenging environment for all our cadets.

After four years, these young men and women who achieve success at VMI, they’ve done so because they were able to find their way. They built relationships, and they built them traversing this unique, one of a kind adversative system. Through these challenges, they forge relationships and friendships. They learn from mentors, and they begin to trust the policies and the process that are void of judgmental overtones and undertones. VMI is a place where everyone is treated the same, and everyone has the opportunity to succeed through grit, determination, and hard work.

And I believe it is through the endurance of living in the healthful and pleasant abode that cadets learn to think critically, challenge assumptions, form their own worldviews, and chart their own path for future. Our job is to maintain the focus of the VMI experience and the fundamentals that enable them to think and learn through a mentally tough and physically challenging cadetship.

There is no doubt that being a cadet requires a rigid disciplined lifestyle, and oftentimes a laser focused attention to detail. The core values of self-discipline, self-control, self-restraint, self-confidence, and self-awareness are instilled in our cadets every day, just as it has always been. That degree of development is one’s character, and it is invaluable in every walk of life. I’m very proud of the young men and women who chose this path and are committed to staying the course with the ultimate goal of achieving success as a VMI graduate.

Our founding fathers likely did not anticipate the depth and the breadth of the reputation VMI would earn by building leaders of character. Our academic and military programs continue to grow in quality and magnitude. In addition, our athletic programs and physical training regimens have begun to grow in stature built around the strength of competing and winning, and it’s allowed our cadets to prepare for military careers, athletic competitions while here, and lifelong wellness as they leave the institute.

Cadets attend VMI for many different reasons, and for many purposes, each will navigate this post differently based on their individual goals. As with my cadetship, and with yours, they will all experience the common bond of honor and integrity reinforced through a single sanction Honor Code, the regiment of the military structure are meaningful traditions, and the expectations to meet high standards. VMI cadets are objects of honest pride to their instructors, and they all graduate as citizen soldiers.

No matter what success we achieve, we must remember our fundamentals, but understand how they apply to the current cultural environment. The inscription on the parapet remains our true north. It has been a beacon since our early days and still shines bright for our cadets today.

These cadets are truly worthy of your strong continued support and encouragement. That is the most significant contribution that we as alum can make. Let me repeat that. That is the most important contribution that we as alum can make.

We certainly appreciate your financial contributions, for it ensures our cadets receive a quality education led by highly credentialed staff. And we are also grateful for the other forms of support you generously provide. From mentoring our cadets, to supporting them at sporting events, to hiring them upon graduation, your efforts are critical and vitally important, and certainly impactful. You are instrumental to the success in many ways, sometimes often more ways than you can count. And they know you remain committed and in support of their success.

They listen to the lessons you provide. And they look to emulate your many accomplishments. Just like each of you, they have committed to this experience that is far from ordinary.

In the end, what will matter to our families, our communities, the state, and our nation is that we continue to graduate men and women of character who are ready in time of peril, to lead and to serve.

In closing, I just want to take the time to state that the foundation of VMI is and remains strong. We’ve not been shaken and we are focused on our fundamentals. Each of you are a tremendous part of the success and our mission moving forward. Thank you again very much for joining us this evening and to celebrate the VMI we all know and we all love. Rah Virginia Mil.