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Hazing...not good for you


Give me a Citadel graduate anytime... one who has endured “the system’  ...and in almost every case has most likely been hazed in some manner… not brutalized. There is a difference most don't understand. There is no place for brutality...  there is a place for hazing - Good spirited hazing in some form or another has been a part of most organizations since the beginning of time. Because of this challenging environment most Citadel graduates carry the advantage to deal with the tough reality of life … business or combat.


 I have to laugh when fiction writers like Mr. Wooten explain The Citadel and hazing to a town full of very successful products that have lived with some form of hazing. His take and understanding is akin to him writing for the Woman’s Section on child bearing... he has zero understanding/knowledge on the subject.


 But maybe it helps get his column read?


Only those who have lived in a barracks (like 4 fraternity houses) full of 2,400 energized intelligent fired up cadets up for any kind of hijinks at the drop of a hat know the incredible energy and creativity of which I speak. Don't tell anyone...  one of our great Citadel secrets...  but “the inmates run the institution” A sub culture in which you must prove yourself to others...and when you pass the are awarded a Citadel ring . It is earned...  not handed out. Seems in recent years some still want the ring that used to mean sacrifice. (They even have now constructed a questionable tacky monument of a fake ring to its past glory)


My first hand knowledge and understanding of hazing … not brutality...  starts as far back as The Citadel Class of 1942. You know... names like Senator Fritz Hollings, Governor West and lots more. I suspect if you ask one of them... they will tell you they were hazed... not brutalized... in some manner. Reason I know this... close family member entered with class of ‘42 and after two years went on to The US Naval Academy. .where he became the highest ranking Midshipmen in the Academy. A USNA graduate told me one time... it is the most respected honor in the Navy to be the Brigade Commander. Family member was grounded and tough... and yes...  hazed while at The Citadel in the early 40’s. Hazing in moderation has been around for a long time.


The stories are everywhere of hazed Citadel graduates who because of their well rounded experiences and being ready for life’s challenges excelled in the military and civilian life ..  Having been hazed in some manner.  Firsthand knowledge could spend rest of the day giving you federal judges, lawyers, head of FBI department, mayors, corporate leaders etc... All hazed in some manner at some point...


Another close family member, not a Citadel grad, a Major General...was 40 years in the military...all of World War II and Vietnam. His last job... head of personnel for the US Army. He never dreamed his two sons would end up at The Citadel... where they were hazed along with most everyone else. His whole career he gravitated toward Citadel grads because in his terms... ”they were flexible and had the right amount of irreverence” Citadel grads had been trained to deal with adversity .. Take it. .and excel under extreme conditions. Hazing guided and had positive impact on many Citadel types... in my biased opinion...even if they don't want to admit it.


There are so many stories that prove beyond any doubt hazing...not brutality... prepares one to face adversity in life, in business and combat. Those that lived it...and know it...will tell you. Terrified mothers who worry about their Cadet “Muffy” have no clue...yet “Muffy” knows the real score. I have a son hazed at The Citadel in some fashion... he is extremely successful in life... so I have little sympathy for hyper mommy and daddies who don't really know the score. As Mr. Wooten explained... these people know The Citadel is tough... their kid may not be tough enough.


Recently a retired marine three star general...US Naval Academy graduate saw my Citadel ring and asked me … how is it that my Naval Academy graduates 5,000 super fine men every year and many go into the Marine Corps and yet 6 of the top 10 generals in the USMC ..The world’s toughest fighting force, come out of a small military school that only graduates 500 in a good year... The Citadel.  Citadel folks thrive in The Marine Corps. Citadel grads are the product of a time tested system that works… and allows them to excel at every level.


And so it has always been this way... starting 150 years ago... it was Citadel men who were the first to start the fight in The Civil War... WWI... WWII...Korea Vietnam. .. The first planes into Iraq...flown by Citadel men. At one time... the entire leadership in the war in Afghanistan...Army...Air force, Marines...were Citadel grads.


How is it...war after war... Citadel men are at the head of the spear in tough situations. Same is true in business and personal crisis. Could it be they have been honed to be tough when the going gets tough? They don't shy from adversity and know how to function in such uncomfortable situations. I think so. I’ll take a Citadel grad anytime... most that have been hazed in one form or another.


Finally I find fault in Mr. Wooten’s misuse of Pat Conroy’s quote from a fiction book “Lords of Discipline” Conroy wrote for profit .. All know the book is a gross exaggeration and helps feed the flames of misperception about hazing. One only needs to look at real life quotes and comments from Pat such given to a group of cadets to include freshman.  Something to the effect “The freshman system  ... and the physical/mental challenges  ...prepare you for life like no other. You will never again encounter anything in your life tougher.” To get a real picture of The Citadel and the true spirit of its Corps...may I strongly suggest you read Pat Conroy’s first book... “The Boo” You will better understand... and it is nonfiction based on funny real Citadel stories… not fiction.


Please... please don't give us this drivel about the dangers of “hazing” The only reason it is headline news and Citadel administration people who themselves were probably hazed and probably then hazed a few knobs themselves...are trying to weed out the abusers of the system and keep the law suites from distressed mommies and daddies worried about “Muffy” who probably needs a little nudge anyway.


 So you see… hazing in moderation. Is good for you in my opinion...can list thousands it helped to one degree or another. It works.


Lost in all this...and “page two” as Paul Harvey would say. It used to be that if one felt they were over hazed … a swift retaliatory clandestine action within the barracks under covert conditions gave one a sense of revenge on those who may have overstepped the limits. Part of your training and survival. Then the end of the freshman year a company party allowed you to call out over zealous hazers and you could drag them down the beach face down until they begged for mercy. In future years they became your closest friends. A bond that lasts a lifetime across every class.  It was all part of “the system” run by the inmates and made you a better person... in my biased opinion.


Brutality and over application of hazing we all know is only practiced by a few and those who abuse it should be thrown out of school.


Kind personal regards,

Senior Private Nat Davis, Citadel Class of 1969

Former Citadel Man of the Year.

16A Meeting Street

Charleston, South Carolina