Honoring our own: Homecoming ’07 © Sept. 13, 2007 Norwich University Office of Communications
There are expectations when one returns to Norwich for the annual Homecoming celebration. Cheers will ring out across Sabine Field as the Cadets pick up yards; throngs of alums and guests will watch as the Corps marches in precision on the Upper Parade Ground; and old relationships will be rekindled as alums cross paths with classmates they may not have seen in quite some time.
Nowhere on campus this past weekend was the latter more recognizable than in the Sullivan Museum and History Center, where the Mountain Cold Weather (MCW) program celebrated its 60th anniversary in conjunction with the opening of a new exhibit dedicated to the program. Climb to Conquer: 60 Years of Mountain Cold Weather 1947—2007 details the beginnings of the MCW program at Norwich and its deep connections to the U.S. Army’s legendary 10th Mountain Division. Featuring rich displays of mountaineering equipment and information from six decades of training in the Green Mountains, the exhibit drew approximately 80 guests to the museum on Homecoming Sunday.
“We are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Mountain Cold Weather program and we really wanted to give the MCW alums the chance to celebrate their 60 years up in the mountains,” said Museum Director Karen Petersen. And according to Petersen, they did just that. “What struck me the most was on Saturday the Mountain Cold Weather exhibit seemed to generate real opportunities for conversations; I just saw lots and lots of people standing and sitting in the space talking about the exhibit and the MCW program.”
The museum also hosted a screening of a documentary on the 10th Mountain Division entitled The Last Ridge: The Inspiring Battles of the 10th Mountain Division. Last Ridge producer Abbie Kealy, along with veteran, historian and author Tom Brooks, a Vermont native featured in the documentary, led a discussion of the film.
The whole experience was, as Timothy Donovan ’62, chairman of the University’s Board of Fellows and a member of first Mountain Cold Weather Rescue Squad, put it, “absolutely spectacular.” Donovan, a Virginia resident, said Homecoming and the MCW event brought back memories of his time on The Hill and allowed him to reconnect with many of his MCW classmates, several of whom, Donovan delighted in pointing out, were also members of the first rescue squad.
“Dave Murray, a classmate of mine, came all the way from the Seattle, Wash., area to see this display, he was on the first rescue squad,” Donovan said. “Bob McIntosh came from California, he was on the first rescue squad, and Denny Lane came from Oxford University in England, where he’s a lecturer. Denny was on the first rescue squad.“
The Last Ridge, Donovan said, was a fantastic homage to the 10th Mountain Division and Norwich’s MCW program, which was born out of the former when many 10th Mountain soldiers returned home to Vermont after the war. Moreover, he said, the ensuing discussion was also a fine tribute to all U.S. mountain soldiers.
“When we saw the video, The Last Ridge — and there were a couple of vets from 10th in the crowd — there was a gentleman there who trains mountain teams up at Ethan Allen, he said something that really kind of crossed time,” Donovan said. “He said, ‘I am a mountain soldier.’ That is the 10th in 1944 and that is the 10th in 2007. That pretty much covers 60 years.”
Although Sunday’s events certainly made Homecoming that much more enjoyable for Donovan, the campus buzzing with activity and plenty of good news about the University also made Homecoming a pleasure. The weekend’s events kicked off Friday when a celebratory ribbon–cutting ceremony at the recently completed Wise Campus Center took place, followed by the traditional Pass In Review by the Corps of Cadets on the Upper Parade Ground. The following day Board of Trustees chairman and retired U.S. Army Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan ’59 addressed the crowd at the Partridge Society and All Class Luncheon, informing those in attendance of the remarkable successes regarding the capital campaign.
“We are beginning year three of our five-year Norwich Forever! campaign, and we have already exceeded our fundraising goal and our expectations,” Sullivan said. “Norwich is already a distinctive school because of its unique mission and its emphasis on honor, service and personal responsibility. By investing more in our faculty and staff, in the physical plant, and in the engaging and rewarding learning experiences that we can offer, we become an even stronger school in the 21st Century.”
Having reached the half-century mark this year, the Class of 1957 was ushered into the elite group of alums known to those in the Norwich community as the Old Guard. On hand for the weekend’s festivities was John Huddleston ’57, an engineering student and former employee for one of the nation’s leading aerospace manufacturing companies. Although he had visited the campus in the recent past, the difference between the Norwich he knew as a cadet and the University of today is remarkable.
“It’s changed a lot, it’s really an institution now,” Huddleston said just prior to the start of the parade. For all the changes though, Huddleston said it was good to see some things stay the same. “I’m glad to see the Corps is still the Corps, and still strong.”
Despite all of the changes on campus that are visible to the naked eye, one thing is for certain: Norwich will continue to honor its own, just as it did last weekend by recognizing the Class of ’57 and the Mountain Cold Weather alums. As for Petersen, accomplishing that goal may be a challenge, but only because of the impression left on alums this year.
“I’ve already been hearing from alums about it,” Petersen said. “Actually, I received one email that said: ‘You outdid yourself, now you need to think of some way to top it.’”