Tradition: Our Gate to the Future

Ron Wade

Alumnus, former football player, and Co-Chair of the Chamberlain Pavilion Dedication Planning Committee.  Talk presented at the dedication of the Chamberlain Pavilion, October 12, 2013

What a wonderful day it is to stand on the grounds of our beloved Chamberlain Field to pay due respect to the past and launch a new road to the future.

Chamberlain, the monument to our past played a major role in many lives from 1908 to 1997. Now it will continue do the same in a magnificent new way.

Many colleges have their iconic structure and/or school symbol--such as Georgia with the Arch and North Carolina with its gothic landmark, The Old Well--and now UTC stands tall as we have our  own: The Pavilion.  The Pavilion will no doubt be a trademark for the future of our university.  When you talk about Chattanooga from this day forward one can say Aquarium, Walnut Street Bridge, Coolidge Park, and Chamberlain Pavilion.  Let’s celebrate it and make it one of the coolest things around for no doubt you will see it on photo after photo.  Now that’s pretty neat and it gives me reason to believe that we have something that is both special and unique.

Too many times, structures of this nature like Chamberlain Field are torn down and just thrown away.  One of these days the last one of us who actually performed on these grounds will turn out the final light, but guess what, Chamberlain Field Pavilion will live on to inspire future generations as students and alumni gather at the Pavilion time after time.

To fully understand the word beloved in my opening statement, you would had to have lived it and some of you here today did just that.  The experience was unique and the environment created relationships with an uncanny allegiance to each other.  I challenge those coming after us to cherish your time while here, as you create your own world and relationships that will in the future enhance your desire to give of yourself and return to this spot again and again.

My goal today is to very quickly reflect on the Heritage of Chamberlain Field and what it has meant to so many of us personally and even to the Chattanooga area.  Also, I see it as perfect opportunity to give emphasis to a new Campus Program based on a bestseller book titled This I Believe.  The study centers on the personal philosophies of remarkable men and women and how they affect mankind.  I will offer you my beliefs, but I do not insinuate that I am in the category of remarkable men.

To me, this dedication personifies one of the obvious attributes of any philosophy and that would be:  Believe in tradition!   Appreciate it and honor it!  Learning to do so does not mean that you are paralyzed by tradition.  It merely stabilizes the foundation from which you build.

Students and all here today:  This I Believe: We must Believe in Tradition. Learn to appreciate it and honor it with dignity.

No doubt while we are assembled here today we will reflect on those great battles that took place on Chamberlain during its storied history.  All the stories may not be told today, but you can bet somewhere over the weekend and over the next few weeks they will be.  What makes it so enjoyable and satisfying is that each story has increased in magnitude and we still laugh as if it was the first time ever told.  Our experiences and stories are the gifts of life that makes it so wonderful.

Students and all here today: This I Believe: listen to both your peers and comrades and learn to appreciate them. Learn from their experiences; if you do not then you are apt to repeat their failures and you may never share the value of their glorious triumphs.

Also my Moc brethren, we are here to honor and pay homage to those that came before us that made all of this possible.  To the Chamberlains, your family's serving as a leader inspiring others has made it possible for us to be gathered here today with immense pride.  For that my good folk, we salute you with unyielding thanks!!  Capt. Hiram and Morrow Chamberlain were visionary men among leaders, and we say thank you for your insight and for your gifts to mankind. 

Students and all here today:  This I Believe: Learn to give. Give of yourself spontaneously:  Give with heart for if you do not, you may miss out of the most worthwhile and satisfying mission of life; and that would be helping others.

Ultimately today, we will christen a cornerstone of our new heritage that will signify bringing forth a new beginning and it is our pleasure to know that both Capt. Hiram and Morrow are still with us if only in spirit.  We thank them for their gift that has and will forever shine brightly.  The Pavilion Cornerstone will bring a vivid new central focus to our campus, but it will without a doubt; visibly honor both the past and the future.  Folks, I ask you to never underestimate the importance and power of that stimulating combination.  Always, take the heritage with you as one travels a new road.

Students and all here today:  This I Believe: Never become too busy to say thank you and show gratitude.  Doing so can bring magic to any relationship and that tends to bring on pure happiness at no extra cost.

Chancellor Angle, the Chamberlain Family, the Wilkes Family, Scrappy Moore’s Family, plus all of our special guests, participants and spectators.  I want you to know it is my sincere honor to be representing in some manner all the alumni that ever set foot on these storied grounds.  It might have been a player, a Coach, a Manager, a Trainer, a Cheerleader, a Band member or even a Homecoming Court and Queen. (Included Queen for sure because I married her).  Regardless of their walk in life, this is a day of importance that we all must remember and I thank all of you for allowing me to take part in this momentous occasion.  As an alumnus, I wish to thank the University for its insightful and ingenious vision of creating this wonderful memorial that will stimulate the inner core of our future endeavors.

I walked onto and played football on these hollowed grounds some 49 years ago and left with more than I ever thought possible.  Little did I know that four years later I would leave “Moc Country” holding a degree in one hand and a gorgeous homecoming queen as my wife in the other combined with relationships that would last a life time!  Every day, I am reminded of the importance of that four years that not only gave me a personal family, but gave me long lasting and bonding relationships that still hold a strategic place in my life today.

Students and all here today:  This I Believe: Unconditional relationships are hard to form, much less keep for a lifetime.  So, I challenge you to foster and feed them as it will make life a much more pleasant journey.  Do not be shallow with them; make them a priority.

Most athletes participating on Chamberlain Field for many years were housed in the dorm rooms under the stadium on both sides.  That was a factor in forming the extended family that I mentioned earlier.  Yes, for those that did not realize it; we actually lived in the rooms on both sides of the stadium.  Now it was not the Waldorf, but it was home.  Do not despair, the place was unique and you know what--it really was home away from home.  Little did we know at the time that there was magic in the air.  Would I trade that time?  Absolutely not!

Students and all here today:  This I Believe: Learn to appreciate what you have at all stages of life and with all of your strength of mind and body, stay away from the negative syndrome of “I Wish I Had.”  If you are not careful you will waste your life away by wishing and looking only at what you do not possess. If you want something bad enough, establish goals and switch the word from Wish to Passion and it will give you a whole new meaning to life.

Finally, there is nothing more fitting than to close with one final thought of Capt. Hiram and Morrow Chamberlain.  It has been recorded many times that both were diligent in their efforts to fight the enemies of society such as ignorance, prejudice, poverty, disease and suffering.  When they both left this earthly place they were dearly missed, but the tears soon turned to joy as it was society’s deepest privilege to have them come our way leaving a legacy that will forever be with us.

The Chamberlain Pavilion combined with the new library will no doubt again bring life to a site that has meant so much to so many.

My Good Folks, for all of you here today: This, I Truly Believe!