Think of These Young Men

Like many of you, I took some time over Thanksgiving to be with family. My mother drove up from Florida, and my son, daughter-in-law, and grandson visited, along with Betsy’s mother. The weather couldn’t have been any nicer, and many have asked if the “crawling lessons” for James were successful. I have the results on video, but won’t post the video here because other grandfathers would be jealous of the speed and form of my grandson’s movement. Success stories are everywhere at Fork Union.

I spent some time last week with LTC John Shuman and COL Fletcher Arritt. John is our Postgraduate Football Coach and Fletcher is our Postgraduate Basketball Coach. In addition Coach Shuman teaches Mathematics, and Coach Fletcher teaches Biology. They are both FUMA grads, and outstanding representative of “Body, Mind, Spirit” as they were top collegiate athletes, stay strong and fit even today, and are model members of our teaching faculty. They both are men of faith, and both invest all their energy to educate, develop, inspire, and support the young men entrusted to their care. I enjoyed my time with each of them…and their conversations help inform the way forward for this great school.

The holiday also brought a number of visits by alumni and parents, all excited to be back at FUMA; and all were flooded with great memories…made even better by the passage of time. I’ve remarked often to cadets that as more time passes they will reflect often on the positive lessons learned here, and realize that this school had a tremendous impact on their lives. One of my goals as President is similar to a goal I had as Superintendent of the United States Coast Guard Academy, which is to have cadets appreciate the value of their experience before they graduate.

I also spent some time fulfilling a long-standing tradition of delivering hams to members of our Board of Trustees. These are amazingly delicious hams prepared by one of our graduates, Jim Kite ’52. On Tuesday I drove to Northern Virginia to visit Ms. Marion Moon and Mr. Guy Beatty. Admittedly as I was leaving Careby Hall early in the morning to drive to the center of at least a hundred traffic jams, I wondered if my time would be better spent at FUMA with the students, faculty, and staff.

It took only a few minutes at Marion Moon’s to realize that it was equally important for me to be thanking (in person) those who have had such a profound impact on FUMA. Without the support of trustees like Guy Beatty and Marion Moon, we wouldn’t be able to accomplish our goals. Ms. Moon provides a scholarship in memory of her son, a FUMA alumnus, MAJ Craig Moon, USAF, Retired; supported our new dormitory project; and committed to helping economically disadvantaged students who might not otherwise be able to afford to attend FUMA. Mr. Beatty built our Library; was the primary source to build our Infirmary; supports scholarships every year; and renovated Snead Hall when it needed quick help. I enjoyed our lunch together, and have never met anyone who has done so much to help others. I was lifted up by their generosity, their love for God, and their passion for what we do here.

Early this morning, on my way to Staunton to attend a course sponsored by the Virginia Association of Independent Schools, I stopped by the campus to empty my inbox and pick up another ham [to deliver]. Some Middle School cadets asked me how everything was going, and I told them that I too was going to be in class all day. When they asked me what I would be studying, I told them it would be a class on financial management…to which one said “what is financial management?” I told them it was how to work with money…and in my case it was a class on Restricted Gifts and Endowments. It was helpful, and my prayer is that we have many gifts and an ever-increasing endowment to manage.

At our weekly staff meeting this week I shared some things I’d taken away from a book I read over Thanksgiving. The book was a biography of Frank L. Boyden, and the title of the book was “Headmaster.” It chronicled the life of an extraordinarily successful leader of an independent boarding school. Frank Boyden often said that “I am not running this school for the faculty, I’m running it for the boys,” and also remarked that “The point of a boy’s education is to learn to love knowledge.” He was very visible, and treated each student as though he “expected something of them.” He even quoted General Robert E. Lee, then President of Washington College, which is now Washington and Lee, who said “A boy is more important than any rule.”

It is amazing to think that in just two more weeks the cadets will depart for the Christmas Break, and that 40% of the school year will be complete. The campus does not seem alive without them, and I for one am in a better mood when they are here. I will end this [too long] blog with the words from our new Fork Union Military Academy video:

“Today, just as in years past, young men rise from their beds before dawn, put on their uniforms with pride, and begin their day at Fork Union Military Academy. The tradition continues, each day, passed down from generation to generation.

"Think of these young men as you go about your daily lives. Know that they continue to walk in the footsteps of those who came before them.

"Fork Union Military Academy’s best days? We believe they are still ahead of us.

"Although more than one hundred years old, this school is still growing and developing with youthful vigor. Pushed by the past, pulled by the future, let us join together and face the dawning of this new day; A day of new opportunity and new challenge.”

Go FUMA!

J. Scott Burhoe
President, Fork Union Military Academy
Rear Admiral, USCG, Retired