Last night, the West Point Society of Annapolis (WPSOA) did what it has been doing for more than a decade. It hosted the USMA cadets who are on a semester exchange to the Naval Academy. The seven young men got a chance to sit down to dinner with members of the Society and discuss whatever was on their minds. Mostly, of course, it was about life at USMA and USNA; but, it was also about the future (and, to some degree, the past). These guys wanted to know more about the Army and the expectations that will be placed on them. And, the Old Grads were more than glad to share our experiences. It was all about the life these cadets had chosen to lead.
Every month during their stay at Annapolis, the cadets are invited to join with members of the WPSOA. Not a dinner that every one can make every time, for the lives are just as busy at USNA as they would be back at West Point. But the turn out of all seven demonstrated how much they looked forward to the get-together. The Society has a self-imposed mission of providing as much support to these future officers as it can. It all starts with a welcome in August, and it runs through they're departure in December. The importance of being available and letting the cadets know they are fully supported should not be underestimated. Society members who have been doing this for many years can attest to the value of what might some might consider "just a social nicety."
Last night, Jim Wood and Bob Frank represented the Class of 1965, a class forever linked to FOR THOSE WE LEAD. With fresh memories of the 3 September Affirmation Ceremony conducted by WPSOA and supported by the Class of 1965, the cadets were still talking about how the Affiliation Program had brought them to thinking about the long term. They were inspired by Joe DeFrancisco's remarks to them and noted that the bond between the two classes was reinforced by the individual presentation of Affiliation Coins, from one graduate to one cadet. They thought their Classmates at West Point would have envied them receiving such direct contact and individual attention, an experience these cadets share with their Classmates on exchange at USAFA and the Coast Guard Academy. With that sort of feedback and insights, Jim Wood and Bob Frank shared a pride in having supported these members of FOR THOSE WE LEAD. The two of us look forward to the next gathering and encourage other Classmates members of WPSOA to join us and the Exchange Cadets.