After several intense years of “muddy boot” soldiering, our family needed a break. West Point needed a Director of Institutional Research. Perfect match, though we did not know for how long. We were waiting for the next “list” that would determine Dick’s career course. Our daughter would later reflect that “lists” often weighed heavily on our family culture. Nonetheless, off we went from Colorado to New York.
When I think back on that time, I can only say it was a gift, a revelation and a reassurance.
The gift: West Point brought me rest in mind and mission. As focused and productive as the workings of the academy were, they allowed me time to savor life, sit on my front steps in Lee Area on a spring afternoon and feed nuts to the neighborhood squirrel Stubby (so named because of a tale missing some of its fullness—the story behind that is probably part of squirrel lore somewhere). There were many idyllic moments like that: walking my son and his friends to soccer practice, their laughter trailing behind me; seeing a baby deer bedded down while the mother foraged close by; reading the entire history of America on the tombstones in the cemetery. I would often slip out my kitchen door just before sunset on those lingering summer evenings and walk among the heroes who slept there—such peace. Such a privilege. West Point was a journey to a higher place.
The revelation: Committing all to the defense of this great country had a day to day “on the ground” result. The American family. It was all around me there. Waving to my neighbors, walking the dog, standing in respect for retreat.
West Point was an incubator building the right leaders. West Point was also an American small town at its best—we were all safe, thriving and moving into the future.
The reassurance: The “list” came out and we were headed back to “muddy boots” duty, where soldiers are made. It was one of Dick’s dreams to be on that “list”. I was thrilled for him; I also knew my upcoming role as a commander’s wife would be taxing. My time at the academy became a pat on the back for me. West Point was affirmation that all the work would be worth it, my contribution to Duty, Honor, Country.
Eric Robyn says
Sallie, thanks for sharing these wonderful memories. West Point is very special, indeed!