As We Joined the Long Gray Line
Was it yesterday I came or really long ago?
It was a hot July, and I a boy, I know;
A wide,eyed blundering boy on that first day.
Seemingly ready for anything; but much to my dismay,
I looked at the First Class and they looked at me,
And suddenly we both realized, mutually,
Who would teach who,------And I learned fast,
I had to: a plebe must or he doesn't last.
Civilian as my argyle socks and my bright bow tie,
It took three upper classes to change the die;
But they did. From old words came meanings new:
Duty, loyalty, honor, to mention only a few.
And the boy grew rapidly older and more wise,
Gradually understanding things he had never analyzed.
June succeeded June; gay bands, gold bars, good-byes;
Now I, a boy no more, have commission in my eyes.
Commission in my eyes, yet remembrance in my heart;
Remembrance of the many men from whom I got my start.
God knows where on earth they
[MAY have been sent,
Places far and near, in castle home or tent;
But there among splendor or mud today
I'll wager their thoughts often tend to stray
To the years spent here among us as cadets,
Some things in life one never forgets.
Soon the memories of graduates will also be mine,
And from my place at the end of the line
I shall see the silhouetted chapel tower o'er the Plain,
Hear the plebes on Friday night sing for Saturday rain,
Look at Newburgh lights reflect on the Hudson at night,
Feel the worth of honor in every "all right,"
Cheer for two full hours for the Army football team,
And swell with pride at graduation, the conclusion of the dream.
Graduation parade,----'56, '57, '58 stride by;
Their eyes tell of pride that will never deny
To accept with zeal that challenge rare,
The challenge of heritage now in their care;
The heritage that makes West Point a unique tradition
Of leadership and service in preparation for a mission.
That through preparation tomorrow rides with me,
With confidence I face the task, whate'er the task
The end of a dream, seven classes I've known-----
Three ahead, three behind, and one of my own;
Three gave me the heritage, three take it from me;
All seven shall live always in my memory.
A salute, a diploma,white hats in the air,
A finale to the Kaydet grey that I wear;
But within me always, though I bid it good-by,
Is the life that began that hot day in July.