A Fun Visit to Charleston and a Big Announcement

Professor Tiffany Silverman with Monuments Men author, Robert Edsel, and several cadets at the VIP reception before the lecture
Professor Tiffany Silverman with Monuments Men author, Robert Edsel, and several cadets at the VIP reception before the lecture

Last week I traveled to Charleston for the Monuments Men event on campus. Several months ago Professor Tiffany Silverman asked me to serve on the advisory committee for the event. It was a great way to learn more about the Fine Arts program at The Citadel and to meet some fascinating people.

It was a big event weekend in Charleston and the hotel rates were super high. I am grateful to my good friends for letting me stay at their home in Johns Island. Having the free accommodations meant I could stay through the weekend for the celebratory gathering after the event on Saturday.

Actor and comedian, Bill Murray introduced Robert Edsel.
Actor and comedian, Bill Murray introduced Robert Edsel.

Like most visits to The Citadel my time was packed with activities. Top on my priority list after attending the Monuments Men lecture by the author, Robert Edsel, was to finally meet Duane Wittman, father of SGT Aaron X. Wittman who was killed last year in Afghanistan. Aaron was a Citadel graduate and soldier in the same battalion as my son. If you’ve followed my blog you’ll know I attended the burial for Aaron at Arlington National Cemetery last winter. Since that time I’ve been in touch with Aaron’s friends and Duane to help get word out about the scholarship set up in Aaron’s name. The Wittman’s gave Aaron’s ring to the Band of Gold program at The Citadel. His ring was melted down and is part of the rings the Class of 2014 wear. Finally getting to meet Duane and a couple of Aaron’s friends was a big highlight of my weekend. They were in town for the Cooper River Bridge Run. About 150 people ran or walked in Aaron’s memory this year.

Duane Wittman gave me one of the shirts that the group wore for the Cooper RIver Bridge Run. Also in teh photo are Andrew Barton, '07 and Robby Jackson, '07.
Duane Wittman gave me one of the shirts that the group wore for the Cooper RIver Bridge Run. Also in the photo are Andrew Barton, ’07 and Robby Jackson, ’07.

I managed to get some fun visits with cadets in as well. Some were planned an others were spontaneous meetings on campus. I was sure to get photos of cadets I know so I could share them with their moms. I also took a ton of photos of the parade Friday afternoon in the hope their family would catch a glimpse of their cadet. Friday evening I spent dinner with two knobs. It was fun to get to know these young men. After dinner and dropping them off on campus I gave rides to a few cadets who were heading to town. While they appreciate the ride, it is fun for me to meet these cadets and learn about them.

Saturday was a nice quiet day. The weather was great so I spent a few hours at Folly Beach writing before I had to get ready for the party. It was a terrific evening. We were hosted by the advisory committee chair at their home near the battery. I had a great time meeting the other guests including cadets from the Fine Arts program. I even had the chance to chat with Bill Murray. The basketball game was one so we talked basketball. I was thrilled to learn he knows of my alma mater, the University of Richmond Spiders. Unfortunately I think I was a bit too chatty and BIll soon made his excuses and headed for the food.

This beautiful lamp was on the front porch of the home where the party was held Saturday evening.
This beautiful lamp was on the front porch of the home where the party was held Saturday evening.

My traditional last stop before leaving Charleston is brunch at the Marina Variety Store. This trip was no different. I then go to campus for a rest stop and usually head home. This year a variation of my tradition included giving some knobs a ride into town and then three back to campus. It was a fitting end to a great weekend.

I am not sure when I will be able to visit Charleston again. Right before my trip last week I received a call that will change my life, and that of our family, for the next year. Back in January I interviewed for a residency position in the chaplains office of the VA hospital in Decatur, GA. When I interviewed they told me the funding should come through in February. Since it was April I had assumed they filled the four spots. It turned out they had not. The supervisor called last Wednesday morning and offered me one of the four residency positions. I will begin June 2. (that is, if I pass the physical and background check)

Clinical Pastoral Education or CPE is a program people go through for a variety of reasons. I’ve wanted to do this for years. It does take a lot of time and can be very demanding. Until now family obligations have kept me for applying. I’ve framed the support for Citadel parents as a type of chaplaincy. For years I’ve offered encouragement and support to journalists in much the same way as a chaplain would. This will be an opportunity to be in a group environment  to learn and to grow. The VA is the only program I applied to. I felt the experience there, to work in an environment with veterans, will enhance the experiences I’ve had to date with members of the military.

I am feeling a mixture of excitement and nervousness. I am excited for the opportunity and nervous because it will be a whole new experience. Ultimately I hope this experience will help me be a more informed and effective caring presence to the people I am in contact with in various roles.

Several Marine cadets received awards Thursday afternoon.
Several Marine cadets received awards Thursday afternoon.


I ran into Cadet David Connors and his friend on Friday. One of these days I  will finally meet David's mom, Laurie!
I ran into Cadet David Connors and his friend on Friday. One of these days I will finally meet David’s mom, Laurie!


I ran into Cadet Harrison Davis while showing a new family the mess formation for lunch.
I ran into Cadet Harrison Davis, from East Cobb, GA, while showing a new family the mess formation for lunch.



The Monuments Men and The Citadel


The Fine Arts department at The Citadel is sponsoring an amazing event April 3 at the McAlister Field House. Robert Edsel, author of Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, will be the guest speaker and sign copies of his book . The event is free to the public.

For those interested in supporting the Fine Arts department at The Citadel there is a VIP Cocktail Reception and Private Book Signing prior to the free public lecture and Q&A event. The VIP ticket price is $125 and includes a copy of the book. Parents of cadets who cannot attend can purchase a ticket and arrange to have the signed book delivered to your cadets MSC box on campus if your cadet cannot attend. Email Professor Tiffany Silverman with your cadet’s name, company and their box number. Her email address is: silvermant(at)citadel.edu

This event is one of the approved Fine Arts events that meet the requirement for freshman and sophomore cadets.

An anonymous donor has agreed to match all ticket sales and donations to the event up to $25,000. If your company matches charitable donations this is a great way to make an even great impact on a terrific program.

In a recent email to me Professor Tiffany Silverman explained the history of the Fine Arts program at The Citadel:

In the past, The Citadel has been able to offer a few dramatic presentations each year for the Fine Art Series as there has not been an academic program around the Fine Arts; just a couple of art appreciation courses taught by an adjunct.  I have been on board for 5 years now, developing this program from scratch, and this year I was able to launch a new Fine Arts minor that has rapidly become among the largest in the school.  Also, the oversight of the Fine Art Series has moved to the School of Humanities under my direction.  We now offer courses in drawing, painting, photography, advanced film, and drama in addition to core classes in art appreciation, music appreciation, and introduction to film.  This is incredibly exciting as we are now offering a more diverse range of events and exhibitions that serve to connect the arts to something meaningful to the cadets as well as provide internships, jobs, exhibitions of cadet artwork, and even sales of their artwork — opening doors they didn’t even know existed.

Professor Silverman sent me a few emails from former students. These notes underscore the various ways in which the Fine Arts program has continued to help graduates.

Professor Silverman,  Thank you for the notification. I didn’t realize that a fine arts minor was actually established since I graduated. That is very exciting and I am rather jealous. I wanted to let you know that I am doing very well. I married my beautiful wife, in May of last year and have enjoyed 8 wonderful months with her.  I have traveled many places in the past 4 years and I enjoy my career with the Air Force. Again, I wanted to thank you for inspiring my interest in art. Before attending your classes, I honestly had very little interest. It took me a lot of trials before I found a medium I enjoyed, but painting has been incredible. My large abstract oils not only decorate our walls, but the walls of several friends, family members, churches, and even Air Force institutions. Although, it is a hobby and more for stress relief, it is also a way I can share my interest with others. I am training in XXXX again this month, and ironically I blew the mind of one of my instructors. I left a rather large painting at Camp XXX 2 yrs ago. It is on display for all to see in the main hallway of the XXXX School. When I mentioned it, he actually thought the school-house had purchased that piece professionally. Additionally, a year ago a General and Colonel stationed at my base both mentioned the same work and how they hadn’t realized it was mine until they read the plaque, and sent me a direct email thanking me for the impact it made and how it represents the training with such an iconic perspective each defender will always remember. Needless to say, I will continue to paint. One day I hope to distribute my works and have them displayed elsewhere. When I return home I will talk to my wife about a donation. It may be small, but it would mean a lot to support you if we can. Thank you again for all of your teaching and encouragement over the years.

Dear Prof. Silverman, I can’t tell you how much your class three years ago has helped me in my career. I know you think how can taking an art appreciation class help you in the army but it reality it has help bring a wider prospective on culture, creativity, and ideas! It’s one of those subject all cadets should understand and be familiar with to be better citizens and leaders of our community’s, state’s and nation. I applaud you for reaching out to your former students because if any of them are like me, the understand the importance of what the fine arts teaches you now more than when we sat in your classroom. I hope that you will reach your goal because increasing fine arts at the citadel will only help our future leaders! 

Hey, Professor Silverman! Thought I’d let you know that I’m now the Public Affairs Officer for my company, which basically just means I take photos for any of our company events, from Training Exercises to Family Readiness Group (FRG) events. Those photos are usually submitted through the company and put in a ‘storyboard’ as kind of a press release for whatever event occurred. Commanders like to see pictures, and whenever a picture isn’t taken with a cellphone they are usually impressed. But I try to economize the amount of times I press the shutter so that I don’t distract from the training or the significance of the event. So this means I don’t have as much trial and error (‘spray-and-pray’) as when I shoot things like landscapes, so I have to know exactly what settings I need and how I want to compose the photo to make every shot count.

This type of ‘press type’ of photography isn’t exactly my favorite, but if I wasn’t taking these pictures, there would probably only be blurry, low resolution, horribly composed cell phone pictures to remember these Soldiers and the accomplishments of the organization. So I always volunteer to take photos, for the sake of the unit and good photography.

I have the most fun with photography usually on my free time when I just explore around and see what catches my eye (usually around sunset). But sometimes it’s nice to just sit and enjoy a sunset instead of worrying about a good subject, exposure and composition. Which I think is important for photographers to do; it’s easy to get caught up in the all the technical aspects and become oblivious to the beauty that is happening in front of you. So I think I’ve found a good balance between taking the time to observe what makes whatever I’m looking at significant and messing around with my tripod and getting frustrated with my exposure settings.

I never expected photography to become such a big part of my life, but it really gives you an excuse to really think about and appreciate the world around you and also share it with others; and I probably wouldn’t have gotten so passionate about it had it not been for your course and the great opportunities it offered.

Please join me in supporting the Fine Arts program by purchasing a VIP ticket to the April 3 event, or making a donation to the program. Remember all gifts up to $25,000 will be matched! To access the web site to purchase a VIP ticket and/or make a donation Click Here.