I am now a little over a month into my cadetship here at the Virginia Military Institute. I am still a Rat. I will be a Rat for a long time, but it will end some time. Life is hard for those of us living on the Fourth Stoop. We get little sleep, are constantly being pushed past our limits, and are being challenged with very rigorous academics. But we are coming together as a class; as Brother Rats. We have lost some, because they couldn’t make the cut, did not want to be here, had problems that prevented them from staying here, or a combination of the above. But we do not mourn their departure, we have no time to do so, we just soldier on, where others failed.
This all started when I signed this book. The Matriculation Book is signed by all those incoming freshman. It holds a record of all those who have ever begun their cadetship here. When I signed the book I officially became a Rat. Shortly thereafter, I formed up with the rest of the Charlie Company Rats.
We then marched back to Barracks where we met our Cadre, the upperclass Cadets charged with training us into proficient members of the Corps. We formed up in New Barracks Courtyard and soon the drums began and Cadre marched in. The members of the Old Corps who were around formed up on the stoops above us and caused all kinds of commotion. The next thing we knew, Cadre members were swarming around us, screaming and yelling. And so began the blur that was Hell Week. During this week we were taught how to drill, how to do rifle manual, how to wear the various uniforms of The Institute, and other necessary skills. We were also pushed far past our physical limits. The week was capped off by The Rat Crucible, an afternoon of purely physical trials and tribulations. We were all half-dead by the end, some more than others, but we were all happy that we had made it over this hurdle.
The first week of academics wasn’t too bad. Things quieted down quite a bit. We started seeing Cadre less and less and I got to walk-on to the football team. My classes are enjoyable and are a thousand times better than most of my high school courses. And our lives slowly began to follow a daily rythm.
Soon we were off to New Market to learn about the battle there that was fought by the Cadets who came before us. Ten Cadets died there, or from wounds recieved during the battle. The Battle of New Market marks the only time in history that a student body has fought as one unit in pitched battle. And on that day, after being sworn in as the Cadets of the Virginia Military Institute, we charged accross the Field of Lost Shoes just like the Cadets who have come before us.
And after this month or so has flown by, and I have been through hell, and have more still to go through, I find that I am glad that I have come to The Institute, or “Mother I” as we call it. It feels like home. And though it may be hard, I take pride in the fact that I have taken the road less traveled. And now, I must bid you good night, dear reader, as I have a football game tommorrow. It is our Homecoming game against James Madison University. Rah Virginia Mil!