by Carter Melton
Ladies and gentlemen of The Corps, greetings. My name is Carter Melton, a history major from Salem who graduated in 1967. For 30 years I was the president and CEO of one of the largest hospitals in Virginia and served two terms on the Virginia Military Institute Board of Visitors.
I know exactly what you’re thinking: “Oh, no… a liberal-arts relic from The Old Corps.”
Please, just hear me out.
Last Monday evening you heard from the Governor of Virginia.
He stood before you and presented himself as a man who had been on the road to Damascus, met Jesus, and had an epiphany of the heart. In fact, he is a politician who got caught with his political pants down and, given the nature of his dilemma, pivoted to a strategy of racial redemption to save his political skin.
As for the Governor’s deep love and affection for VMI, you might want to consider the following:
When allegations of systemic and virulent racism at VMI first arose, he had the opportunity and responsibility to order a thoughtful, fair, and honest investigation. Instead, in an act of feckless political convenience…which supported his campaign for racial redemption…he threw VMI under the bus, aided and abetted by some of the most intellectually dishonest journalism I have ever seen, compliments of the Washington Post.
As you consider the difference between the fairy tale you heard in Cameron Hall and the above assessment, here are a couple of things you might want to ponder:
First, read the October 19, 2020 letter to VMI, signed by the Governor and 10 political allies. In it, they repeated the original allegations of virulent and systemic racism at VMI, treating those allegations as fact without a shred of evidence, and declared VMI guilty as charged without any inquiry or review. Keep in mind as you review this scolding letter of gratuitous condemnation, that the three lead signatories consist of two confirmed White practitioners of blackface and a Black alleged rapist. Feel free to draw your own conclusions.
Second, try to find some documented rationale justifying the Governor’s shameful and shabby treatment of General J. H. Binford Peay III, arguably the finest Superintendent in VMI history. He was a true gentleman and leader of impeccable character, and a man with a world-class record of outstanding performance and service to America and Virginia.
If you can’t find any substantive rationale for the treatment of General Peay, you might look up the word “McCarthyism” on Wikipedia. Substitute the word “racist” for “communist” and you will begin to get the picture. Today’s crazy world is not the first time governments have abused power to destroy individuals and organizations.
Third, take a look at the inexcusable action of the Commonwealth, under the Governor’s control, of jerry-rigging its own procurement protocols in order to hastily engage a second-tier law firm from the Midwest…which cravenly markets itself as the legal champion of wokeness…to investigate VMI for the princely sum of one million tax-payer dollars. Did you know a lawsuit was filed over this selection process? You can find this sorry tale well documented at www.baconsrebellion.com.
Lastly, obtain and read the entire final report of this law firm’s “investigation” and see if you notice any glaring disconnects between the damning word picture in the “Executive Summary” and the actual data, which is supposed to rigorously support any conclusions. There is a term-of-art in the consulting world called “wire job.” Tickle Wikipedia again and look it up.
Finally, I’d like to leave you with a couple of good thoughts (believe it or not).
First, VMI’s reputation graduates every year. This special place is our school, our reputation, our diploma, and our legacy. And it is our responsibility to get up every morning and help make VMI better today than it was yesterday.
Second, wherever your journey takes you, whether to the ends of the earth to protect, defend, and sacrifice for America, or down the road to a new hometown, always know that VMI men and women will welcome you into their homes, their offices, and their hearts. Your price of admission is adherence to our touchstone of honorable behavior.
May God bless The Corps, VMI, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the United States of America
Rah Virginia Mil