VMI: The Drums of Honor

4 AM  7 September 2003



It seems to me,

I hear the drum sticks

on their way down.

Even before they strike

the snare drum

for the first time.


And by the time the bass drum is struck,

I am sitting up on the edge of my “rack”.


The call, the summons, has gone out.

Some one has violated “the code”

and now

must pay the penalty.


I say a prayer,

hoping God will help

this newly identified sinner

in the days

and weeks



As the summons, call, continues,

my roommates quietly begin to stir.

No words are spoken

and in the dark,

the door is open

and we are out

onto the stoop.


In some sort of daze like no other,

I can see and feel

the corps

making its way,


along all the stoops,

in the dark,



So very quiet,

except for the summons,

and then suddenly,

silence reigns.


Finally the words

and I pray again,

the name called

will not be someone

I know.


I think of the dishonor the violator must feel.

The pending disappointment of his family.

How his life has been changed.

How all he has endured is now lost to him.


I do not feel more honorable at this moment

but feel honored

to be a part of something with “honor”

as its core.


I believe in honor.


Then it is over,

and in the darkness,

the corps moves away,

only the muffled shuffle of feet

breaking the silence.


Once inside my room,

I return to my bed

and listen to the silence.

Only it is not silence for me

but rather,

the echoes of the snare and bass.


The snare and bass,

coupled in a haunting manner.

A summons, a call,

to witness,

like no other

before or since.


Now, many years have past

and although my memory fades,

the sound of the summons does not.


And in my fading memories,

it seems that in some years,

the snare and bass were never used.

And in other years, too often.

And in one year, twice in the same night.


Honor.  A snare and bass drum.


I do not hear them in my dreams

but will never forget their haunting call.


Honor above self.


VMI: All Things Related


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