To my regular readers, this post is in response to an article I read in a college newspaper in Lexington, Virginia where two universities stand side by side on the real estate front, but differ vastly in their student body make up. Both VMI and Washington and Lee have a stake in Lexington, but according to this article only one university has the right to call it home. According to the article, and the chief of police, only Washington and Lee students are truly at home in the small town situated in the Shenandoah Valley. You may want to read the article (Police Chief raises concern about VMI, W&L relations) to see why all of this doesn’t sit well with me. My thoughts are stirring like the swirlings of a tornado, and this is my response…
Dear Chief Thomas,
I have many foul words spinning in my head and would love to spew them at you in retaliation for your completely inane and delusional comments regarding VMI cadets. But I’m not going to utter one bad word. Not. One. I’m not refraining from calling you names to save your pride. I simply won’t call you names because I am working hard to raise the antithesis of what you described in your article. My husband and I are working hard to raise a respectful, self-confident, well-rounded kid. So far, I think we’ve done a pretty darn good job, as have the other parents whose children chose the educational path at VMI. I’ll tell you why I think the parents of VMI cadets have done a good job. You see, our kids didn’t choose ordinary. They chose extraordinary. They chose attend a school where academics meld with discipline and rigor to create our leaders of the future. These young men and women chose a college path far more challenging than you, or any of the students at W & L, could ever imagine. For you to disparage them the way you did in your comments is disrespectful and frankly stupid.
I say disrespectful because your comments completely disregarded the fact that these kids have proven themselves to be some of the most amazing young adults our country has to offer. They are polite, well-mannered, hard-working, kind and generous. They will be the first ones to assist you if you need a hand. They will give you the shirts off their backs. They will be the one you can call at two in the morning when your whole day has gone to the dogs, and you just need someone to listen. They will bend over backward to help you succeed.
For you to call them, “trained killers” is shameful and you should be embarrassed. I’m embarrassed for you. The college students at VMI are no more trained to kill than is my golden retriever.
The cadets at VMI personify a sense of duty, a calling to serve others and a deep-rooted conviction that they will not lie, cheat or steal, nor tolerate those who do. This is the embodiment of the students who proudly call VMI their school.
I also called your comments stupid, and I stand by that assertion 100%. You called our kids, “trained killers” and then you went on to say, “every now and again we let them loose in public.” You talk about our kids as if they’re animals, or freaks, who are put on display, only to be let out occasionally. Your thinking is sad, twisted and warped if you think the cadets are anything less than the students a W & L. They are just as social, adept and able to handle themselves in public as the Washington and Lee students. They are well spoken. They carry on conversations with adults in a respectful manner. They carry on conversations with peers, both in and out of VMI, with self-assurance and a confidence not all young people have. Your comments on how a VMI student conducts him or herself in public is sadly lacking in judgement, and it seeks to create a massive divide between two groups of teenagers/young adults. Instead of building on what their commonality is, being young people working toward a higher education, your statements seek to take their differences, going to an exceedingly liberal school versus an extremely structured school, and create an un-breachable rift between the two. When you look at who all of these students are you, as a leader in the Lexington community, have an obligation and a responsibility to not only help them get along, but to show them, through your words and actions, how to get along. By shoving differences down the throats of all of these students with your divisive comments, you showed the people of Lexington your favoritism and your small-mindedness. What a shameful state of affairs your comments created. This would all be laughable, if it weren’t so wrong. Luckily for you, the VMI cadets will hold their heads high, knowing they didn’t rise to your bait.
And luckily for you, those “trained killers” have your back.
Author, Blogger and Proud Mama of a VMI Cadet
What I’m truly hoping happened here, is that the journalism department at W & L took the police chief’s comments far out of context, printed an article without thinking and are working to clarify what was said. That’s what I’m hoping. I can’t imagine a university who shares sidewalks with VMI would ever knowingly try to stir up problems. And I’m hoping that a police chief really wouldn’t say all of those things about students he is sworn to protect and serve…