It means something to be from VMI because
our graduates have proven their resolve in the face of near-constant adversity.
Our process is unlike any other in this nation: uncompromising military and class
systems that work in unison, an excellent education from one of the nation’s top
public undergraduate institutions, and the world’s strictest Honor Code. This is
how we are able to produce the nation’s finest citizen-soldiers, but make no
mistake—this process comes at a price. You are about to enter the hardest
school in this country. The bond you will create with the strangers to your left
and right is ineffable. Together, you’ll be challenged and tested in ways you
could have never before imagined, but understand that for 180 years,
cadets before you have endured this same process. Here at the Institute, you must
earn everything. You must earn your place in our barracks. Nothing
will be simply handed to you. Success is not guaranteed. I can assure you that you
are provided with every tool needed to be successful. Use them. You will make
yourself known. Your reputation will be defined by your willpower, integrity, and
commitment to getting things done the right way. You will thrive if you make
yourself known as someone who cares about our system and who refuses to be
outworked. When stripped of all else, your
reputation is all that you have. Relentlessly defend it. The decision you
have made to be seated in front of me today lets us know that you want to make
a change in yourself for the better. You have declared that you want a challenge.
Rats, now is the time we make good on our promise to give you that challenge.
Embrace our process and you will succeed. Good luck.