UPDATE: They came and witnessed and mourned in scores: "Pat Conroy’s funeral was both a time of mourning and reunion."
Although a graduate of the then-all male college, his best seller caused a decades-long falling out between Conroy and the school. Until a reconciliation brought them back together and came with a invitation for the author to give the commencement address to the Class of 2001.
In that address, he invited everyone in the class to attend his funeral. He said,
...you do me the highest honor by bringing me fully into my Citadel family...Usually, I tell
graduation classes I want them to think of me on their fortieth birthday, but I got something else I want to do for ya'll because I'm so moved an what you've done for me.
I would like to invite each one of you in the class of 2001 to my funeral, and I mean that. I will not be having a good day that day...but I have told my wife and my heirs that I wanted the class of 2001 to have an honored place whenever my funeral takes place. And I hope as many of you will come as you possibly can because I want you to know how swift time is, and there is nothing as swift--and you know this--from the day you walked into Lesene Gate until this day--a heartbeat, an eye blink. This is the way life is. It is the only great surprise in life.
So I'm going to tell you how to get to my funeral. You walk up.... Your find the rusher waiting outside, and here's your ticket.... You put up your Citadel ring. Let them check for 2001, and each one of you, I want you to say this before you enter the church at which I'm going to be buried. You tell them, "I wear the ring."
As I read these words printed as an appendix in The Lords of Discipline, I was struck by the timing--reading about this invitation only hours after he died. It was moving. I haven't been able yet to find on the Internet any mention of the invitation and whether the class plans to attend en masse. I hope they do. While the Lords of Discipline sketched a harsh picture of discipline and plebe indoctrination at The Citadel, its protagonist lived out the schools' highest ideals.
And Pat Conway became a beloved author.
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