BEAUFORT, S.C. – Pat Conroy’s funeral is today, and there’s one group of people he expressly wished would be there: The Citadel Class of 2001.
FULL COVERAGE: Pat Conroy’s unfinished new novel will be published .. A year before he died, Pat Conroy opened a gym .. Conroy revealed cancer diagnosis and said “I intend to fight” ..Pat Conroy once thought Saddam Hussein or Jane Fonda would address Citadel cadets before he did ..Pat Conroy dies at 70
After years of estrangement from his alma mater, Conroy returned that year to give the commencement address. Toward the end of his remarks, he issued this special invitation:
“Usually I tell graduation classes I want them to think of me on their 40th birthday, but I’ve got something else I want to do for y’all, because I’m so moved at what you’ve done for me. I’d like to invite each one of you in the Class of 2001 to my funeral. I mean that. I will not be having a good day that day but I have told my wife and my heirs that I want the Class of 2001 to have an honored place whenever my funeral takes place, and I hope as many of you will come as you possibly can.
Because I want you to know how swift time. There is nothing as swift, nothing. I’m going to tell you how to get in my funeral. You walk up toward them, you find the usher waiting outside. You put up your Citadel ring. Let them check for the 2001. And each one of you, I want you to say this before you enter the church at which I’m going to be buried. You tell them: ‘I wear the ring.’”
Here’s a video clip of this part of his speech: