I understand that you are assembling material in support of the nomination of David Hughes, USMA 1950, for the 2001 Distinguished West Point Graduate Award.I would like to offer my recollection.
I knew David Hughes while he was an instructor in the English Department and I was a cadet member of the Class of 1959. Today he stands out in my mind as the most memorable and inspirational "P" I had during my four years as a cadet.
I suppose the point of departure for myself and most of my classmates in his English sections was his outstanding Korean War record. That earned him an extra measure of classroom presence and respect, especially in my own case, not having come from a military background. At that point in time, he was the closest I had ever come to a bona-fide war hero.
What most sets him apart in my mind is how his classes always seemed to have an added dimension beyond the academic subject matter. With Hughes, the great characters and themes of literature became vehicles to develop our understanding of military professionalism, its values, the responsibilities of leadership, and concepts like selflessness. Other instructors did that for sure, but he was far and away the best in my experience, because he did it with such presence, conviction, enthusiasm and wisdom. I know I did not think about him in exactly those terms back then-----twenty-year-old cadets do not easily attribute "wisdom" to someone barely ten years older-----that kind of appreciation only grows with time and validation by personal experience.
One of our subjects was Herman Melville's novel "Moby Dick". There is one passage from that book that is imprinted in my memory:
"Know ye, now, Bulkington? Glimpses do ye seem to see of thatOver the intervening 44-45 years, whenever I recall the meaning of those words, I am reminded of David Hughes. I think they are all about the kind of "wisdom" that he brought to the classroom. In my own mind, they define him, and why I remember him as the best "P" I ever had.