The Wieland Memorial Gate Dedication Ceremony
Photograph courtesy Mark Orr, SMA '73
This gate was given to the Staunton Military Academy in 1948 by Mrs. J. A. Walls of Baltimore, MD, in memory of Dr. John Thomas Wieland, SMA '31-'35, Lieutentant, USNR, who was killed in action in the Southwest Pacific on December 2, 1944.
Photograph above by Malcolm L. Kantzler, SMA '65
Scanning capability courtesy Hunter Henry, SMA '46
I have just returned from what was my 30-year class reunion, held at the Engleside in Staunton, VA. Had it not been for our web site, I never would have had one of the best experiences of my life! I drove 1,491.3 miles to attend, and I would not hesitate to do it again. The memories of the reunion, as with the original tour of duty, will last a lifetime.
Perhaps the most important part of the weekend activities included the re-dedication of the monument on Flagpole Hill, officiated by Rev. G. Simmons Robichaux, SMA '50, officiated. The stones were reset, with missing ones replaced, and the plaque was cleaned and refinished by hand. It looks wonderful. A short prayer was spoken as the memorial was re-dedicated, and the local news media was there interviewing attendees.
At the dinner, there was a display of the artist's rendition of the proposed WW-II memorial plaque to be mounted on The Hill, pending MBC approval and some additional funding. Anyone who knows of any names that need to be on the WW-II memorial should contact the alumni office. E-mail to that office is being set up. Former cadets or faculty who lost their lives serving our country should be remembered.
The guest speaker at the Saturday night dinner was Dr. Brenda Bryant, director of the Mary Baldwin College VWIL Program. She received a scholarship from Alumni President Fred Burner for the MBC girls enrolled in the cadet program. Since VMI no longer supports MBC, the SMA Alumni are taking up the slack to help preserve the legacy of cadets marching on the parade field. I suggested to Dr. Bryant the possibility of a mentoring program for cadets via e-mail and web-site discussion boards. There is a wealth of experience and wisdom among SMA alumni that should not go to waste.
The excitement at the business meeting was really profound.
We had a wonderful visit in downtown Staunton walking the streets. We even had a class-of-'69 beat squad as we marched around on the asphalt--only one lap. It was, I believe, the shortest and the oldest beat squad in history.
I know there are many former cadets that couldn't wait to get off The Hill when we were students, but I want to encourage all SMA alumni to remember the camaraderie and friendships built upon the perceived hardships endured. The SMA reunions are about rekindling friendships and discovering new bonds with those who have shared an experience like no other, as well as swapping tales and catching up.
I have since received an e-mail from Dr. Brenda Bryant. She expressed how hungry the new cadets are for any historical information about SMA, and she will be setting up an SMA liaison in about two weeks, when the cadets return to school. Anyone interested in participating in the e-mail mentoring program please let me know. It will be a great way to share history and encourage the new cadets. Let's do all we can to keep the spirit of SMA alive.
Truth, Duty, and Honor--we need more of it in today's world.