From: "Tom Sims" TomESims@west-point.org
Date sent: Sun, 7 JUN 2009 20:49:08 -0700
Subject: usma55bus: Congratulations to Members of USMA Class of 1955
Carl McNair sends:
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Memo For: Members of the Class of 1955, Family and Friends
Subject: Congratulations on the 54th Anniversary of our Graduation - June 7,
It was 54 short years ago today that 469 one graduated later for a total of 470 members of our class walked across the stage in the Old Field House, below the level of the Plain, saluted proudly and shook the hand of the President of the United States, Dwight David Eisenhower, USMA Class of 1915. Each of us had rehearsed carefully how to reach across with our left hand, grasping our diploma firmly, as we shook the President's hand with our right. Some grinned and some smiled while a couple grimaced that it was finally over, but all were equally and intensely proud, walking swiftly off the stage, returning to our seats to await our First Captain, Don Olvey's final command, "Class Dismissed" and the long awaited "white hat toss". Leaving the field house with our parents, family and OAO's, we walked back up the Hill to the level of the plain with a crisp $1 bill in our pocket for the first MP, other soldier, or perhaps junior cadet who would have the distinct honor of rendering the first salute to a newly minted 2d Lt.
Since wedding bells would begin to toll at 1:00PM from the Cadet Chapel, Catholic Chapel and even the Old Cadet Chapel for some, we scurried back to our rooms and changed to our "new and never yet worn" Tropical Worsteds to serve as ushers, groomsmen and saber bearers for those exchanging June Week vows with their beloved. Then, on to the Officers Club or Hotel Thayer for the many receptions to follow where we could now drink a toast or two without fear of reprisal or punishment. Meanwhile, others not so committed, were moving boxes and bags to their shiny new cars lined up in Central Area, North Area and South Area, prepared for the dash out the gates headed for other points and other places and a well earned 60 days leave before heading off to our basic courses, airborne, ranger or flight training, as the case might be. The air was electric, charged with excitement, as the underclasses looked on with envy, just as we ourselves had done in the three earlier years for the Classes of '52, '53, and '54. The plebes, now recognized as Yearlings and anxious to leave on their first furlough in 11 months, donned their new brass and fell out in the area. The cows prepared for their "Cow Trip" and half the firsties moved to their new quarters and training for the first detail of Beast Barracks, while the other half dashed off for a quick leave or even the Recruit Training Detail at Fort Dix, if they were unusually lucky. Our class had now reached that long awaited day of June 7, 1955, only dreamed of 1430 days before on July 3, 1951.
Yes, that all happened 54 years ago today, what might seem a lifetime ago remains fresh in our minds - perhaps the most memorable day of our military lives, a journey across continents and oceans, mountains, jungles and deserts, experiencing challenges few young men in our own generation might ever have, but for which we were all prepared, trained and ready. Our numbers have now diminished, our ranks thinned by 141, more than one in four have gone on ahead, and the remaining 329 are still bound by that same spirit and comradeship that existed decades ago.
As we indulge ourselves this brief moment in time for reflection on yesteryear, taking comfort and pride in our past, may we now also look ahead to the future, what is yet to be in the balance of our lives and our 55th Reunion in 2010.
Sir, there are 340 days until the 55th for '55 may we grip hands and look forward to that day. Do plan to join us, one and all.
Carl H. McNair, Jr.
President, Class of 1955
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