The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

October 3, 2012

Pfeiffer homecoming brings alumni with famous relative

By Brian Graves, Staff Writer

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 — It made one wonder if a famous grandfather had once again intoned a verse asking for divine help in improving the weather.

One of the great stories about legendary Gen. George S. Patton was when he asked a chaplain, Col. James H. O’Neill, to pen a prayer asking for fair weather in which to do battle.

In part it read, “Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend.”

A downpour in the early hours of Saturday threatened the Color Guard ceremony planned for Pfeiffer University’s homecoming festivities later that morning.

But having Patton’s grandson as an alumni and guest speaker might have given a hand in sparing the activity from being a washout.

School officials said they had expected 200 alumni to participate in the day’s activities, and almost one quarter of that number arrived early enough to participate in the ceremony which was designed to salute and pay tribute to Pfeiffer graduates who wore the country’s uniform.

The AMVETS North Carolina Career Center, which is on the Pfeiffer campus under the direction of Charles Cosgrove, assisted in organizing the event.

“It’s nice to see you on a beautiful day,” Pfeiffer President Michael Miller told those in attendance with a smile.

“There is some blue there if you look.”

The rains of earlier had broken and the ceremony carried on as scheduled.

Fittingly enough, it was another military chaplain who gave thanks for the day.

“Gracious Lord, on occasions like this, our minds and spirits relive former days of dreams, goals and treasured friendships,” Capt. Jeffrey Kidd of the U.S. Air Force Air National Guard intoned in his invocation.

“As we celebrate accomplishments and rekindle relationships, we show gratitude for the blessings You have brought our way.”

Following the prayer, members of the West Stanly High School ROTC presented the colors while The Singing Americans of Albemarle sang “The Star Spangled Banner” and “Amazing Grace.”

Miller then introduced the guest speaker, George P. “Pat” Waters, Pfeiffer Class of 1965 and grandson of Gen. Patton.

“I don’t talk like my grandfather, but I can be as loud,” Waters said laughingly hinting at Patton’s colorful and often profane use of language.

“What an honor to be chosen from all the Pfeiffer graduates to come here and give this talk about the military,” Waters said.

“All the folks that have served in the military and chosen to serve, I’m not just honoring them, I’m also talking about the servants of the public.”

He mentioned those who serve as teachers and in various forms of social work which benefit the general population.

“They’re just as much service to the country as are those of us who have had the privilege of serving in the military,” Waters said.

He remembered arriving on the Pfeiffer campus 51 years earlier and said it was a change from someone who had grown up in a military family.

“When I got here, I found people with first names,” Waters said.

“There wasn’t a ‘Yes, Sergeant Major.’ This was a new beginning for a kid who had grown up in the military.”

He said he had great respect for the students who now occupy the classrooms in which he once learned.

“I think here at Pfeiffer, there is an opportunity to become an individual which I was certainly able to pick up on and it helped out,” Waters said.

He talked about what an honor it was for anyone who served their country and also mentioned those that stayed behind family members were sent into war zones.

“We’ve got to remember they didn’t get an email or a Skype, they didn’t have what they have in today’s military, so they are just as much of a veteran as those who served,” Waters said.

“I serve on the Medal of Honor board, and those who wear that medal will tell you they are not royalty, it was the ones who didn’t come home that are royalty,” Waters said.

“That’s who they wear those medals for.”

Waters also showed some memorabilia from his famous grandfather including photographs and a boot his grandfather had been wearing during the jeep crash in 1945 that eventually led to his death.