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Temple receives Special Citation

By David Nutter, Kate Coughlin, and Richard Lovegrove

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 28 - April 18, 1996

Virginia Tech has been blessed with many alumni who have given much to the university. But for one alum, his gift of love maybe the greatest gift of all. For he has given to Virginia Tech the gift of its own history, a history of the Corps of Cadets.

This is no simple history book. For 23 years, Harry Downing Temple has labored to catalogue the history of Virginia Tech as it existed from its founding in 1872 until 1947, when a flood of returning GI's started the university on a road to dramatic changes. The Bugle's Echo, a nine-volume, 1.5-million-word tribute to a small, military college seeks to reconcile the history of Virginia's largest university with an era of America's past.

"The motive behind the work is an earnest desire of an old grad to prevent the story and spirit of the small pre-World War II military college from slipping into obscurity within the shadow of its successor preeminent and large civilian university," Temple writes.

It was for this and other selfless acts of devotion to his alma mater that Temple was awarded a Special Citation by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors which expressed the appreciation of "the entire university community and to officially recognize his extraordinary efforts to preserve the history and traditions of the Corps of Cadets for future generations."

Temple is a retired U.S. Army Colonel and Class of '34 graduate. He said he is not saddened by all of the changes that have come to Virginia Tech. "The changes," he writes, "brought betterment in many ways, but some worthy aspects have been lost in the transition."

Since 1973, Temple has sifted through piles of black-and-white photographs while transcribing his endless hours of research into a neat, handwritten manuscript. The first volume of the work, which covers the years 1871-1900, will be available by the end of April 1996.

The Bugle's Echo covers the history of the Corps in an intimate, detailed style. It features the historical background of each period, the culture of the times, the modes of transportation, the fashions of the young women who came to dances, the music, and amusing anecdotal information on the life of the cadets (inside and outside of the barracks), faculty members, associates, and the various administrations. The book will be a feast of information on the growth, joys, sorrows, and trials and tribulations of the Corps, the college, and the graduates.

Temple has also completed a pictorial history of the uniforms cadets have worn at Tech. Through contributions by his fellow alumni, he was able to commission an artist to complete 37 full-color plates. He combined them with 47 pages of history to produce Donning the Blue and Gray, which was published in 1992. Proceeds from the sale of this book have helped finance the history project.

Temple also designed a coat-of-arms for the Corps of Cadets and successfully shepherded the crest through the process to become officially registered with the United States Office of Heraldry.