The Magazine of South Carolina

Tradition on Parade

Friday Afternoons at The Citadel


Citadel cadet (autumn 1999 Sandlapper cover)

Cadet hat emblem


Sword drill

Full parade

Cadets relax after parade

Bronzed mascot

College president and SC governor take review

Cadet marching band

Misty retreat on campus

Article by Aïda Rogers/Photos by Russell Pace

Are Citadel people born, or are they made?

You might wonder that when watching parade on Friday afternoons at Summerall Field in Charleston.

Citadel president John S. Grinalds, starchily erect as he observes the gray and white formations, looks as though he never exhibited a moment of poor posture in his life.

“Bug spray, guys,” says Joy Simpson, The Citadel’s director of major gifts, passing the Skintastic down the rows of the VIP section. It’s early April, and that means gnats in this Low Country campus on the Ashley River. Viewers in their T-shirts and shorts are free to swat and slap. But not the cadets. In their salt-and-pepper uniforms of gray wool coats, white cotton trousers and feathered “shako” hats, they are rigid and unmoving. If a bug bites, so be it.

“They can’t scratch!” Bernard Warshaw, class of ’42, is still astonished he survived parade’s restrictions. “We’d get welts.”

Winter isn’t so pleasant, either. Cold air on exposed ears and quelling a cough can be almost as challenging as heat and insects.

Warshaw, a Walterboro merchant and active alumnus, says he gets prouder of his Citadel  heritage each of the 57 years since he graduated. Does that mean he wants to be back on the field, standing at attention while officials give him the look-see? “Absolutely not.”

These days, there are Citadel women, and they participate in parade, too. They march as cadets in battalions, in The Citadel Regimental Band or in the Regimental Pipe and Drums Band. The latter, formed in the 1950s, is a force of 20 cadets playing bagpipes. For many, the shrill of pipes and the boom of cannon fire represent the pageantry of parade.

“If you’ve never seen one, it’s really impressive,” says Russell Pace, The Citadel’s photographer. Pace has shot parade 410 times in 14 years and still isn’t tired of it. Crisp uniforms against a blue sky and swords glittering in the sun are two reasons why. A USC graduate, he admits he’d like to march in parade just once before he retires. “But that would be impossible,” he says. “It’s for cadets.”

Parade occurs almost every Friday afternoon during the school year, September to mid-May. Though it’s become a tourist attraction—and a free one–its purpose is to “render honors, preserve tradition and foster esprit de corps,” according to a printed parade script. Attend one and you’ll see 1,600 cadets marching, shouting and bearing arms.

“Look through their legs,” instructs Ann Warshaw, loyal Citadel wife. The straight lines of the cadets amaze her. So do their lifelong discipline and camaraderie. “There’s a certain esprit de corps here that you don’t see in any other school. “Even the alumni. There is a bond between Citadel graduates anywhere you go.”

When a dignitary visits during parade, he or she may be invited to ride in a Jeep with the college president to "take review." The dignitary’s degree of importance dictates how many shots will be fired. A governor warrants a 19-gun salute, a United States president 21.

“This is more of a patriotic event, a time to celebrate love of country,” observes Peatsy Hollings, who used to watch parade when she was a Girl Scout. (She and other Scouts had a crush on their leader’s cadet son.) Though the field maneuvers haven’t changed, the size of the audience has. “The mobility of parents has changed a lot. Now people come from all over the state, because of I-26.”

One of those I-26ers was Aphrodite Konduros. “I’d leave Carolina at 1:10 and be standing at parade in a fresh dress at 3. I used to borrow a car to match my dress.” Now a lawyer in the upstate, Konduros says she was a “braid chaser” more in love with The Citadel than with her cadet boyfriend. Parade was a thrill for her, even if the cadets dreaded it. “If there were 15 Fridays in a semester,” she declares, “I was good for 13.”

Alexander the Great may have been the first to parade troops; today, The Citadel, Virginia Military Institute and Texas A&M continue the practice. U.S. military parades and reviews started at Valley Forge. Today’s parade sequences at The Citadel aren’t much different from those performed by Revolutionary soldiers 200 years ago.

Founded in 1842 as the state’s military college, The Citadel was parading the next year. Superintendent Oliver J. Bond (1908–1931) described it as “not unlike commanding an unruly elephant.”

Since then, an estimated 100,000-plus cadets have stood straight with their chin straps under their bottom lips, listening to the band play “Hey, Look Me Over” while the president does his inspecting. And while cadets will have marched in an estimated 130 parades by the time of their graduation, it’s likely they’ll never get bored with it. Au contraire.

“You’re challenged to do more,” believes Cadet Cpl. Jonathan Lyman, a 20-year-old psychology major from Atlanta. “It’s not fun when you’re doing it, but you’ve got to look at what it does for our school. It lets us represent ourselves in a positive light and lets people see what we learn.”

Lyman became interested in The Citadel in the eighth grade, when he came to Charleston for a soccer tournament. He wanted the confidence he’d heard the college would instill. Already his ability to talk in front of groups has improved. “You’re more proud than anything,” Lyman recalls of his first parade, after the famously grueling Knob Week. “Your chest is all stuck out. That’s when you can show them what they taught you.”

He muses a bit more about The Citadel’s ironic mystique. “It’s a hard school to go to but it’s a great school to say you go to. You like bragging that you go to The Citadel.”


* Capital Source Inc.
* Eugene A. Brooker
* Joyce & Mickey Burriss
* William H. & Sherri C. Burriss
* Charles A. Carson Sr.
* Bob Cullum Sr.
* Julian G. Frasier III
* Jack W. Glenn
* Dr. Robert B. Glenn
* Jim Harrison
* Mark Hood
* Dr. Charles E. Millwood Jr.
* Charlie E. Nash
* Fred L. Price Jr.
* Dudley Saleeby Jr.
* Jimmy Swan

Parade at The Citadel is usually every Friday—with time out for holidays and exams—at 3:45 p.m., but not always. It’s recommended that visitors call (843) 953-6726 ahead of time for updated information. Come 10 minutes early for a seat on the bleachers.

Home Page | Back to "Sandlapper Illustrated" Contents