Traditions are a powerful, strange and special phenomena. That is true in our families, with our closest friends and, especially, in our Citadel family. The Citadel is rife with traditions, both old and new. Our most sacred Citadel traditions honor our graduates, especially those who have passed. The various monuments, plaques and buildings around our campus are integral to our traditions. Many of our alumni classes, Companies, Citadel Alumni Association (CAA) Clubs, Junior Sword Drill, etc., have developed their traditions over time. Some classes gather for football tailgates, annual cruises, rent houses together on nearby islands, etc.
During the pandemic, a small group of 1982 grads gathered multiple times for Oriole vs. Yankee Major League Baseball games and for the spring (pandemic) Citadel football game. During these weekends and occasional Zoom calls, usually accompanied by fine libations, discussions turned, as they often do as we age, to those who have left us and to the growing realization that our time together is finite and fleeting. As one of our group put it during one of our Cocktail Hour Zoom calls, “If I only have 20 years left, that is only a thousand weekends and only half of those will be good! “Another chimed in, “So what do we do with those 500 good weekends?!” Discussion ensued. The answer: We spend as much time with family and friends as possible, celebrate what brought us together, and honor and preserve our shared bonds.
Invariably, at our weekend gatherings, classmates showed up with gifts for each other, food and fine whiskey to share. Sitting in a hotel ballroom in Baltimore in July 2022, Max Waldrop handed out whiskey glasses etched with the ’82 ring bezel and each person’s name in a rare quiet moment. (Mary Schneider, Al and Kate’s daughter, made the glasses for us.) We raised our new glasses in a toast to those class members who are no longer with us and toasted the school that brought us together 44 years ago and the resulting friendships that bring us together to this day.
Max Waldrop asked a few of us if we were familiar with the Doolittle Raiders’ tradition of gathering once a year and toasting the departed members of their ranks using silver goblets and a sip of a special whiskey. (General Doolittle began this tradition in 1959 with a gift of 80 silver goblets and a bottle of 1896 Hennessy VS Cognac.) Max then proposed doing something similar.
Another tradition, the Citadel Class of 1982 Legacy Salute Battery (LSB), was born. Texts, emails, Zoom calls ensued. Max contacted Vic Rosen ’79 (Custom Texas Wood), who worked with Max and our plank holders to design a cabinet box to hold two bottles of fine whiskey and 28 personalized glasses. Keith Miller led an effort to draft by-laws for our battery and design a challenge coin. We received requisite permission from The Citadel and CAA leadership to use all copyrighted images on the ’82 LSB case and challenge coin.
The Class of 1982’s 40th reunion was a blur. We wedged in our inaugural Class of 1982 LSB ceremony into that avalanche of activity and honored those who have passed. As J.J. Powers put it, “It was like speed dating for four days!”
The program began with a welcome and the Cadet Prayer, followed by a brief familiarization with the Doolittle Raiders tradition, a quartermaster update and an introduction to the by-laws and to the challenge coin. The heart of the ceremony was the presentation of the 1982 LSB bourbon glasses, the challenge coins, and the toasts to those who departed. The bourbon glasses feature the 1982 class ring bezel etched into one side of the glass and the member’s name on the reverse side. The challenge coins must be presented when any portion of the group gathers unless one wishes to buy the first round! As we paid tribute to each of our fallen classmates with a few words, we placed their inverted glass in the case and saluted their memory. After each of the 28 inaugural member’s glasses were placed in the LSB case, the ceremony was closed with the singing of the Alma Mater.
In the future, we will add members from the ranks of our class, in accordance with our by-laws, while honoring those we have lost and celebrating all that brought us together at The Citadel. This will continue until the last member of the Class of 1982 LSB dies and the case and glasses are given to the CAA.