Photos: The Pylons

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The War Memorial is one of the most inspiring places on campus. Its eight pylons stretch toward the sky, engraved both with the core values upon which the university was founded and with the names of more than 400 alumni who lost their lives in the line of duty.

The Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets uses the following description of the Pylons in its regulation and in the new cadet knowledge publication, the Guidon:

On the top step of the court are carved the words, “That I May Serve,” a free translation of the Latin motto for Virginia Tech, “Ut Prosim.” Bordering the Memorial Court are eight massive pylons with sculpted figures. On the pylons are carved the names of Virginia Tech’s war dead. At the court’s center is a marble cenotaph, a symbolic tomb. It also displays the names of graduates who received the Medal of Honor. The pylons embody the values that members of the Hokie Nation hold in the highest regards and serve as a touchstone for the traditions, Honor Code, training programs, policies, and regulations of the Corps of Cadets. It is important that all understand the meaning behind each of the pylons.

Ut Prosim [That I May Serve]: Alma Mater advising her son, “My son, forge your life on the principles I strive to teach. I cherish four major virtues: Brotherhood, Duty, Honor, and Loyalty.”

Brotherhood: Brotherhood is akin to the Golden Rule; let no wall be high enough to separate you from your fellow citizens in spite of dividing factors — be they geographical, political, religious, or social.

Duty: Duty is a sublime word. Be faithful in the performance of your day-to-day duties aware of the larger obligation to humanity. It is your obligation to know what you ought to do and to do it.

Honor: Honor is your personal integrity; your intuitive sense of what is right, and your shield against evil. The shield as a symbol of personal honor dates back to Knighthood. Here the unblemished shield of honor gives protection against evil and temptation symbolized by the Serpent.

Loyalty: Loyalty is unswerving allegiance to family and friends, to me … your school, and to your community, state, or nation. The low relief building in the background is barracks number one … Lane Hall.

Leadership: Cultivate these four character traits and you will be eligible for leadership. Only then can you raise your hand and say, “Follow Me.”

Service: Be warned. Life is demanding and courageous leadership means service. The symbolism stresses the readiness to put aside the pursuit of one’s own work and career to enter into military or public service serving one’s country and fellow citizens.

Sacrifice: And finally, service means sacrifice … even unto life itself. For leaders, it means that you must give up actions and habits that would detract from the higher calling to lead and serve others.