Summer 2017 Corps Review | Back
By Samantha Riggin VT’16, Corps museum curator
The simplest things can hold the most complex meanings. For instance, the dog tags Maj. Gen. Cecil R. Moore, class of 1916, wore during World War I initially aren’t the most engaging object from the vast collection of memorabilia the Moore family recently donated to the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets museum. However, these metal discs held together with khaki-colored cord represent the beginning of Moore’s storied career in the U.S. Army.
Moore came to VPI in 1915 from Harrisonburg, Virginia. An above-average student in high school, he enrolled as an advanced freshman. Known as the “Scribe” by his classmates, Moore earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 1916 and his master’s degree in electrical engineering in 1917. He financed his master’s degree by teaching physics to undergraduates.
While Moore’s personal papers showcase his devotion as a professor, the United States’ involvement in World War I influenced his decision to serve his country. In summer 1917, he commissioned into the Coast Artillery Corps as a second lieutenant. In 1920, Moore deployed to Germany with the 16th Engineer Battalion, where he attained the rank of company commander. In 1942, Moore was promoted to chief of the Corps of Engineers in the European Theater under Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Moore’s awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Croix de Guerre Medal.
After he retired from military service in 1946, he became head engineer for the city of Baltimore and then the first director at Friendship International Airport, today the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.
Simply put, Moore’s service and achievements ensure his place on the short list of some of the greatest men and women to have served our country. Moore’s family, recognizing his devotion and admiration for VPI, made the Corps museum the repository of his memorabilia, including personal and professional manuscripts, medals, uniforms, photographs, and souvenirs from his travels around the world. The Moore collection will serve to educate and inspire cadets and scholars with important, historical items, many which have never been seen outside of official military channels.
Now, back to those dog tags, one of the most intricate and compelling specimens from the Moore collection. Why? Because they are a concrete reminder of the decisive actions Moore took in 1917 to honor all corps alumni with his devotion to living a life of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve). Well done, sir.