Last night, the Class of 2010 of the Virginia Military Institute received their combat rings, marking the first of their inductions into the Brotherhood of the Ring. It was a night few will forget, as we all crowded ourselves into Cocke Hall for a combat dinner of sorts; all of us dressed in ACUs and our faces painted with eager anticipation of being able to wear our combat rings for the very first time.
After many speeches and a dinner that far surpassed anything I believed Aramark (our school’s catering/dining service) was capable of, we placed our rings on our hand and proceeded to usher in a new tradition at VMI. As we walked out of Cocke Hall, filled with fine food and joy, we were flanked on either side by an honor guard with rifles at present arms, and at the end of the walkway, right before the stairs, was a combat memorial with a helmet perched upon an inverted M14. As each one of us passed the memorial, we tapped our rings onto the dome of the helmet to honor those alumni who had gone before us and those who had payed the ultimate sacrifice in defense of all we believed in.
From there we sauntered up to the Parade Ground where we cried out our Old Yells: one for our Dykes’ Class, one for our Rats’ Class, and one for our own Class. To punctuate the end of each of our Old Yells, a 105mm Howitzer was fired off — one of the same Howitzers we drug up the hill on Break Out Day one cold Saturday in January of 2007. From there, we headed back into Barracks to revel in our most recent accomplishment.
Tonight, we receive our gold Rings. Rah Virginia Mil! Rah Rah Rah! — Rah Rah VMI 1-0 1-0 1-0!