Raise a Glass: USMC Birthday and VMI Founders Day

On November 10 1775, the Continental Congress resolved to establish two battalions of naval infantry for service in the infant United States of America. On November 11, 1834 Cadet John B. Strange assumed the role of Sentinel at the Lexington Armory and thus began the first state supported military college of Virginia Military Institute. Since 1997 when I signed a NROTC scholarship I have had ties to both of these Institutions.

The images printed on the glass are very faded, but the rocker glass pictured once had clear logos for The Virginia Military Institute, The United States Marine Corps, and United States Navy. This cup was the ball gift from my first Navy/Marine Corps Birthday Ball when I was a freshman at Virginia Military Institute in the fall of 1997.

Over the course of time and 10 Permanent Change of Station (PCS) moves this glass has followed me. Countless dishwasher cycles have faded the logos to barely readable now. My wife threatens me when the last logo fades the cup is destined to the donation center. Just like the glass there have been several changes to the institutions represented since I first toasted to health and success of the corps in 1997. Specifically the last two years have seen significant changes at VMI in regards to their ties to the school’s Civil War history and the Marine Corps has made several changes in regards to their future as a fighting force. This has led alumni of of both institutions to lodge their complaints or praise to the changes made.

For some I am sure you expect me to give my two cents as a product of both VMI and the Marine Corps. Sorry to disappoint this is not what this posting is about.

I was uniquely a part of each organization for a set period of time. For VMI I was extremely concerned what went on there from 1997 to 2001. At the time right or wrong concerns about ties to the Civil War were low on my priority. While the media flurry was surrounding newly admitted women to the institute I was most concerned with not getting kicked out of the school for poor grades. For the Marine Corps I was deeply involved in Marine concerns from 2001 to 2021. While I had my own concerns about why a naval infantry was engaged in a solely land battle in Iraq and Afghanistan I was not in a position to influence national strategy and attempted to do my damnedest to live up to the reputation of those that preceded me.

As much as I was engaged in these institutions while I was part of them my new role as stay at home parent and beer writer have very little role in the current affairs of either VMI or the USMC. I am still deeply proud of the time I spent with both of them. My alma mater does not want to hear what a >20 year graduate has to say, especially one that no longer donate’s to the school. Likewise the last person I think the Marine Corps wants to hear from is a retiree. But I have my memories and with this glass I will use it as a link to my youth and previous life.

Like I mentioned before this glass has made 10 moves with the military. I know one day or move this glass will shatter and then I will have one less physical tie to these institutions. Tonight I will enjoy a drink and remember my time with the institutions and the individuals who made them such fine organizations.

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