A Citadel tradition: The last cadet in line speaks to his class
For longer than most people on campus can remember, the last cadet to get his or her diploma and cross the stage during the South Carolina Corps of Cadets commencement has been given the honor of speaking to his or her classmates and to the thousands of family and friends in attendance.
This year the honor goes to Cadet Jared Zentz, 4th Battalion commander and the recipient of one of four Air Force pilot slots that went to members the South Carolina Corps of Cadets Class of 2010. Here is what Zentz had to say to his classmates:
“I’ve heard it said, 'back in the Old Corps things were different.'
"Since the day we matriculated, I always wondered what upper class cadets or alumni meant.
“Is it that we are so different from the classes who came before us? Is it because we now have air conditioning in our barracks that still for some reason only works in the winter? Or is it that we no longer receive our diplomas on the steps of Bond Hall?
“Even though I can’t quite determine the difference between our predecessors and the Class of 2010, I can confidently say that we are still very similar. For example, like all those before us, we have all struggled to maintain consciousness during the most boring and drawn-out Monday morning classes.
“At one point or another, we, too, have spent countless hours serving confinements or pounding the quad with rifles. But more recognizably, we all have endured the dreaded, blood thirsty, sand fleas that infest Summerall Field on Friday afternoons.
“In reality, every alumnus and cadet can agree that The Citadel is a unique experience. It is an institution that is founded on fundamental principles which will allow us to succeed in all areas of life.
“Principles such as duty, honor, discipline, and integrity--these are characteristics that we as cadets have learned to develop and embrace. We have been challenged. We have been broken. But we all have endured. We all have overcome.
“While attending The Citadel we have learned to be courageous, despite all obstacles. We have learned to be confident. We have learned to take care of our own. When I am flying in battle, I will be able to count on my Citadel brothers and sisters fighting on the ground or the sea below.
“When I come home to the states, I am confident that my Citadel brothers and sisters will be great lawyers, doctors, businessmen and women, and law enforcement officers. The Citadel builds fearless leaders. We are those leaders! We are the future!
“I ask that after this ceremony, you always remember this wonderful day. Remember that we have endured and overcome, but also remember that we stand for a sacred tradition.
“When you walk out of those doors today, no one will know what you did while you were a cadet. Instead, they will see your ring and know what you represent. What you do from this day forward, will reflect not only your character, but that of the men and women who have gone before us--the character of those who are seated to your right and your left.
“So, my fellow classmates, I challenge you: today will you join me in becoming a part of noble tradition. Class of 2010, welcome to the Old Corps!”