244 Graduates Cross Stage
Sen. Thomas K. Norment Jr. ’68 addresses the graduating cadets. -- VMI Photo by Kevin Remington.
LEXINGTON, Va., May 16, 2012 – Sen. Thomas K. Norment Jr. ’68, majority leader in the Senate of Virginia, offered the Class of 2012 an engaging blend of reminiscences of his life and especially of his cadetship in his commencement address today in Cameron Hall.
“I am one of you,” declared Normant, and, touching on the highs and lows of the cadetship, the false steps and triumphs, the sorrows and rewards, he entertained the cadets, who rewarded him with a standing ovation.
Two hundred seventeen members of the Class of 2012 graduated during the ceremony, noted VMI Superintendent Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III ’62 in his remarks, with 112 to be commissioned into the U.S. armed forces by the end of the summer, approximately 50 percent. Including cadets from previous classes, 244 received diplomas today.
Peay also pointed out a special challenge faced by the Class of 2012. “Your class has had the distinction of leading the largest Old Corps in VMI’s history. … Above all, you maintained a strong regimental, class, and honor system and now pass these traditions on to future classes.”
Class valedictorian John E. Alerding IV drew cheers during his talk when he recalled some of the experiences the class had shared. But he also offered some advice:
“This place is frustrating for a reason. … Make the best of it; continue to push yourself to something you want to do. … Graduating from VMI is only the first stroke of a masterpiece.”
Other cadets receiving special awards during the ceremony were Craig R. Waldman, First Jackson-Hope Medal and Commander Harry Millard Mason Academic Proficiency Award; Douglas J. Alvey, Second Jackson-Hope Medal and Colonel Sterling Murray Heflin 1916 Academic Proficiency Award; and Caroline D. Wortham, Society of the Cincinnati Medal and Richard J. Marshall and Sumter L. Lowry Awards.
Joe Munno, Class of 2012 president, introduced Norment, pointing to the common ground the graduating cadets will soon share with him as alumni and also a common theme of the ceremony’s presentations: “He is someone who has walked in our shoes.”
In his closing remarks, Normant returned to an image introduced by Peay, when he noted that today’s ceremony was the last time the entire class would be assembled in one place: “This really is the final roll call for the Class of 2012.”
To that thought, Normant added, “I would not change one damned second of my experience at VMI. … I will always be one of you.”