West Point has meant three things for me – commitment, confidence and connections.
I was very young when I first talked about attending the academy. West Point was where people went in order to serve and to protect the country. As a cadet I felt that I had entered not just a profession but that I had also taken up a vocation – a vocation which required that you put country before self and that you give your best effort at all times.
The Army’s ethos was captured in West Point and its motto of Duty, Honor, Country. Even in civilian life these ideals formed my code of behavior. Whether I was working in Saudi Arabia or standing in front of a high school class in New Jersey I knew that I represented the academy and the country and needed to be sure that my performance reflected in a positive manner.
If West Point drove home the commitment to its values, it also gave me the confidence that I could meet the challenge. The cadet experience, stretching from befuddled plebe thru Buckner and on into “post-grad” Airborne and Ranger, showed me that I could reach inside to find what was needed to attain success. The experience also showed that teamwork was vital in any successful organization. I learned that in a tight situation teamwork could make the difference- “Cooperate and Graduate” was more than a slogan!
The time at West Point meant that I was more than an individual, I was part of all of the experiences our class shared at the academy and in the service. West Point formed a connection with my classmates and with the larger group of West Point graduates. The class identity has given me a sense of belonging to something larger than myself and a sense of pride. I am one part of a network of comrades. What I do reflects either positively or negatively not only on myself but on my class, on the academy and on the Army. Regardless of where our individual lives have taken us we have a desire to renew old friendships and acquaintances. It is more than a social connection, it is a shared identity.