An open letter to the Corps from The Citadel’s first lady, Gail Walters

The Citadel Photo

Dear Citadel Cadets:

“There will be little rubs and disappointments everywhere, and we are all apt to expect too much; but then if one scheme of happiness fails, human nature turns to another.” – Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

I know, the last thing you need right now is another “buck up and push through this” message from an adult. Any adult. So let me tell you something entirely different- something you may not have heard yet: I am so proud of you. Every one of you. (Great, that made me cry.)

You have every right to be frustrated, disappointed, sad even, or angry. You all worked so hard, especially you seniors, and the finish line was in sight. But as you sat massed in the Fieldhouse less than 2 weeks ago, you thought you were on the verge of a 10-day break. And now, we’re trying to figure out how to clear your rooms and do a Commencement virtually. It’s a shock, and it’s not fair, and we get it.

But here is what I am not seeing- I’m not seeing nasty outbursts and embarrassing vitriol on social media. I don’t see you trashing the organization we love or blaming others- though you might be just as unhappy about the sacrifices as the next cadet. I see people trying to figure out a way to cope and a way to beat this unprecedented crisis.

Most importantly, I see grace and dignity in you.

I see a maturity in your resolve to get through this together and a commitment to help each other. I see suggestions and solutions and adaptations to an awkward “new normal.” And I see the qualities of leadership that will guide this nation in the future and will serve each of you so well in your own lives. And I am so proud.

So, thank you. Thank you for your example. Thank you for giving us hope and making us proud to be affiliated with this great institution. I hope the world is watching. They could learn a lot.

Stay safe and stay strong– until we meet again.

Gail Walters