Honoring ‘TCU's Most Important Alumni’
The Honorable J. Roger Williams, Texas Secretary of State, TCU Trustee and graduate of TCU’s Class of 1972, made these remarks at the dedication ceremony of the TCU Veterans Plaza on November 12, 2005.
First of all, I would like to say what a great honor it has been for me to serve as chairman of the Veterans Plaza efforts because I feel this is such an important project for this university. I want to thank all of you for joining me as we honor TCU’s most important alumni.
Here at TCU, we have a Hall of Fame for our renowned athletes, a Hall of Fame for outstanding musicians; we have educational accolades for our greatest scholars, and many more. But, until today, we have lacked a fitting memorial for what I feel are TCU’s most important graduates.
Like you, I have been involved with TCU for many years. But of all the things I’ve done and been involved in at this university, this has been the most rewarding. Because, my friends, home runs and touchdowns fade away but liberty and freedom are eternal. American heroes live with us forever.
From Lexington and Concord to Iraq and Afghanistan, America’s veterans are the ones who have won our own liberty — and have helped democracy take root and flourish in many other nations around the world.
In today’s world, real heroes aren’t riding in limousines — they are riding in Humvees. They aren’t walking down the red carpet at the Oscars — they are walking patrol in Baghdad and Kabul.
Even as we speak, members of our TCU family in the United States military are risking their lives in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and far away corners of the world. I would ask that today we take the time to reflect on the sacrifices they make in the name of freedom and democracy around the globe.
When you talk about America’s greatest warriors and commanders, many of the first names you think of are Texans: Audie Murphy, the most decorated combat soldier in U.S. history, was born near Kingston, Texas; Dwight David Eisenhower, commander of Allied forces in Europe during the Second World War, was born in Denison, Texas; Chester Nimitz, perhaps the greatest admiral the United States has ever produced, called Fredericksburg home.
As Texans, the blood of heroes flows in our veins. Maybe that’s why Texans are overrepresented in every branch of America’s armed forces, and why almost one-fifth of active duty personnel in the U.S. Army are Texans.
And, as this plaza represents, TCU has produced its share of notable veterans. Our university has a strong tradition of service dating back to the very beginning: Addison Clark, the co-founder and first president of TCU, was a veteran. So were other charter members of the Board of Trustees like James J. Jarvis and Randolph Clark.
And there have been many other TCU graduates, and even faculty, who have been remarkable veterans. Men like Clark Mullican, a lawyer, TCU graduate and assistant district attorney for Dallas County before joining the military to fight in the First World War. His gallantry in action and courage under fire earned him decorations from both the American and French governments. He was eventually given command of the 144th Infantry Regiment. Or how about Thomas Vernor Smith? In 1916, Smith joined TCU as a professor of English literature and philosophy. However, when America entered the First World War the next year, Smith knew it was time to do his duty. The 27-year-old professor switched from giving instructions to taking them — enlisting in the Army as a private.
Many of TCU’s veterans are not as well known as the names I’ve listed above. That doesn’t make them any less important. Every veteran is a hero! And we are especially proud of the TCU veterans. We need to recognize what their service means for Fort Worth, for Texas, and for America. It is their willingness to serve that has allowed America to remain strong, free and democratic. It is their courage that has helped spread liberty and democracy around the world. For what they have done, we can never thank them enough.
We honor the courage, dedication and virtue that inspired them to put on the uniform and risk their lives to make our nation and our world a better place. America is the home of the free and the brave. To be free, we must all be brave. Those who are being honored by this plaza are among the bravest of us all and certainly the bravest of all Horned Frogs!
In closing, I ask all of you to lay your clothes out tonight before you go to bed and tell someone you love them. And between the moment when your head hits the pillow and when your feet hit the ground the next morning, I would ask that you pray for our troops, pray for our families represented here today, pray for our president, and pray for all our veterans, yesterday and today, who have given America their very best.