Delta Kappa Epsilon - University of Alabama

Fall 2013 newsletter (HQ)

Psi Chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon at the University of Alabama

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9 Sighs of Psi Your Deke Pin Means Nothing Used copies of this booklet can be bought online for as little as $3.50 (see When the full history of the Civil War experience of the men of the Psi Chapter is written, this man will merit considerably more attention than is reflected in the booklet containing his letter, and certainly far more attention than I've been able to give him here. As noted by Ken Urquhart, when he died "He was thirty-nine years old, a comparatively young man, but, during his brief but eventful career, one who had accomplished much good." Also, although it seems unlikely that Foster would have considered his long letter about the siege of Vicksburg as a major accomplishment of his life, posterity has judged otherwise. William Lovelace Foster's original letter and other family papers are housed in the William Lovelace Foster Papers collection at the Williams Research Center of the Historic New Orleans Collection, located in the French Quarter in New Orleans. Also included in this collection are 52 sermons written by him and extensive material relating to his family, but, unfortunately, nothing related to his life as a DKE. My thanks to the staff of the Williams Research Center for their assistance, as well as to Tuscaloosa historian Chris McIlwain, for information on Foster's Settlement and the Foster family. Finally, my biggest thanks by far go to Kenneth Trist Urquhart, who edited Foster's letter from Vicksburg for publication, and to whom all DKEs thus owe a debt of gratitude. He passed away on December 17, 2012. Besides Foster's letter and his succinct account of the Vicksburg campaign, which is largely summarized above, much of the biographical information on Foster in this article comes from Mr. Urquhart. In addition to his many other accomplishments as a historian, he was a longtime member of the Board of Directors of the Civil War Museum in New Orleans. The Civil War Museum contains the second largest collection of Confederate artifacts in the world, surpassed in extent (but not in quality) only by the Museum of the Confederacy in the former Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia. However, visitors to New Orleans frequently overlook this priceless museum collection, which is located across the street from the newer and glitzier World War II Museum. As a present member of the Board of Directors of the Civil War Museum, I would be honored to personally escort any interested DKE on a guided tour of this amazing institution. In the Bonds, T. Semmes Favrot '82 / New Orleans, La. Alumni Historian / had been murmurings and cryptic hints the actives. My pledge There fromtogether clues and timebrothers and I cobbled frames new thought, or capable of setting life's course toward real meaning. I chose, where possible, the cheaper pleasures…with plenty of peer support. Meaningful living and understanding decency took longer. The dirt took longer to find and wash off. Forgiveness is sought and received. I still find old stains in places I didn't know to look. One late night, in 1980, something happened to us. In the dark, that thing made us question so much about who we were, and what would happen to us. When first light came we had acquired a newness, and we were connected with a line of greatness and big men. We thought it was over. Forgiveness was complete for the Prodigal Son. His inheritance was restored. So was the responsibility to seek righteousness and make amends. That work is never over. for when it would have to happen. Every week someone proclaimed that they'd figured things out. An ancient, one eyed black man hobbled among us, cackling, "hit ain't gone be too long now. Don't nobody know da hour o da day!" It wasn't over. It's never been over, and it never will be. Now get ready. Here it comes: Your DKE pin means nothing. Zero. Neither does your framed DKE scroll or your DKE embroidered oxford button down, worn un-ironed and un-tucked. Dekes don't complete our pledge program, have our dues payments arrive, and consider the price paid for being a brother. Those things are necessary, but they are incidental to what we mean as brothers, and as men. George Foote Chester came from a family of privilege. George was 16 years old when he helped found DKE. He built a successful law practice after college. The Battle of Fort Sumpter opened the Civil War. He gave up his security and livelihood, and joined the Union Army as a private…at 33 years old. He fought at Bull Run and Fredericksburg. His leadership propelled him from the rank of Private, to that of Lt. Colonel by the end of the war. He gained wealth in the petroleum business. He was a hero, financially successful, and had every ingredient of public power and notoriety. He chose quiet greatness. He'd already found the path he would follow. He outlined his goals in letter: "If I can peg along without ever, by a selfish act or an unkind word…if I can with all means in my power, do good to those about me, quietly and unostentatiously,…I may possibly glide down to the silent tomb with a gleam of joy." Those life goals were written in 1851. Somehow, between the ages of 16 and 23, Brother Chester had realized the underpinnings of the Mystical Brotherhood he had helped construct. He'd discovered that life was not about him. It was about everybody else. George Foote Chester discovered the secret to greatness in the age range of today's DKE actives. Georges' discovery didn't require a summer in Wyoming, a semester in Europe, or a new religion. His search was made within the confines of his heart, and his Christian faith. This writer wishes he'd searched for and found himself between the ages of 16 and 23. I would never be more energetic, able to absorb Our information age gives college students bad information about the indulgences of money, fashion, sex, entertainment, consumerism, and instant gratification. It follows that information with the assurance that we deserve all of it. Our era awards certificates of achievement for attending seminars, sends college diplomas though the mail, provides money for not working, and gives out ribbons for coming in 11th place at a swim meet. The measuring stick of success and greatness has been shortened, and the definitions have been changed. We want the arrival, but not the trip to get there. We are measuring ourselves by our lifestyle, not by our life's meaning. Generations are not immune. Our Chapter shows its drive and abilities by regularly winning or contending for the coveted Lion's Trophy. Our humanity was evident through Greek Relief. DKE leadership on campus is a given. We are worthy of the recognition we get. Psi Alabama has the ability to show the world the underpinnings of true and lasting greatness. It is to be found in humility, generosity, loyalty, and those virtues that our forefathers held dear. Life's answers become clearer when we take our first step. That step George Chester took. The step is the realization that being a Deke is not about you. It's about somebody else. Our DKE pins mean nothing. We are nothing as brothers until we provide the meaning. That meaning may begin with doing that Chapter chore which is least desirable. It may be reaching out to that brother with whom you have the least in common. It may be following a Chapter rule you don't agree with. Does a hard fought personal, moral battle open a door for the active brothers who witness it? Meaning always is found in making your faith a part of a relationship. It's never over, and it's never easy. The old ways, our traditions, the ways of our founders and forefathers may mean the difference between existing, being average… or that true brotherhood by which we will "slide to our tombs with a gleam of joy." In the bonds, John Nielsen '83

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