1973 - 128th KMI Commencement Speech

Note: This is the last speech made by the last President of the K.M.I. Alumni Association, Dr. Harry Lee Bailey - Class of 1955.  It was copied and edited by Jim Stephens with the approval of Harry's father, Harry John Bailey, K.M.I. 1929.


    Today we come to honor the 128th graduating class from this institution.  I do not wish to detract from that purpose, for your friends and families have come here to see you "commence" a new phase of your lives.

    However, today is also an historic ending, and I feel that I must stand here today and speak as the last President of the K.M.I. Alumni Association, which represents thousands of members of the Corps of the Kentucky Military Institute.

    Surely, I do not speak for all previous Cadets, for there were those who did not enjoy their days here.  But I feel that I must represent and speak for a majority of former Cadets, both living and dead.

    There were those who came here because of the school tradition or because of family tradition, and left here, glad to have been a part of the Corps.  There were those who were sent here against their wishes, but left here glad that they had come.  There were those who came here as awkward, shy boys and left here with tears in their eyes after final formation, realizing ultimately what the school had come to mean to them.

    It is for those men, members of the Cadet Corps from 1845 until 1971, that I speak now: that I might express for them, at this sad time, what I am sure thousands from over the years would like to say today if each could.

    To the founder, perpetrators, faculty and staff of K.M.I. over the past 126 years, we, the end products of your efforts, now sincerely express our thanks and deep appreciation for this school, and for all its high ideals spanning over a century.

    I am sure those Cadets who are no longer with us want me to say sincere thanks to you, Col ALLEN, founder, and to Colonel FOWLER, and to four men with a dream, who came here from Virginia in 1924: MARSHALL, GROSECLOSE, RICHMOND, and HODGIN; men whose hearts, I know would be broken if they were here today, and to the one who is with us today who is saddened.

    To these men, but most especially to Colonel RICHMOND and Colonel HODGIN, our deep appreciation for molding K.M.I. to its zenith, and for teaching us that Character does make the man.

    There are faculty in the past whose names I do not know, whom I am sure made K.M.I. a unique institution, and I can think of them only anonymously.  But there were and are those of whom I have heard or knew personally that gave many years here, and who should be mentioned today.  I surely will not name them all, but may I be permitted to recall men like Sergeant QUADE, Sergeant GHEE, and Major SEIBERT of the Military Department, who made us proud to be a member of a first class Cadet Corps.  To teachers who came here to teach and remained for many years.  Men like Major GREGG, Captain STUTZENBERGER (who wrote the K.M.I. fight song - The K.M.I. Victory March); then GROSECLOSE, MARSHALL, WILLIAMS, PACE, WEBER, N.C. HODGIN, RAGLE, HEWES, HAMMOCK, and SIMPSON.  To these and to others over the years, our thanks, and to those wonderful people who were so much a part of the school, Mrs. RICHMOND, Mrs. HODGKIN, Owen PILLANS, "Cappy" KAPFHAMMER, Mary REICHSPFARR, and "Mom" Fowler, only to name a few.

    I do not know what the future holds for this beautiful campus.  I feel sure that as I drive out the lane today, I leave this place for the last time, as I shall always remember it.  It is my hope, and the hope of many members of the Cadet Corps, that at least a portion of the parade ground could be preserved as a playground or park, as a memorial to the Cadets who once marched there.

    Hopefully, K.M.I. may be a reality once again someday, somewhere else.  But if that is not to be, and if a portion of the parade ground is preserved - should you go there early in the spring on a crisp, bright Sunday afternoon - stop and listen for a moment.  If you listen closely, surely you will hear the Adjutant shout, "Sound Adjutant's Call" - and the bugles will sound - for there the spirit of the Corps of the Kentucky Military Institute will march forever.  And may the memory of that Corps never fade.

 Contributed by Tommy Young, KMI '59

 
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