I took my son to West Point today.
We hugged and prayed before he walked away.
The lump in my throat will be there a long time.
I now have two sons as members of the "Long Gray Line."

My heart is aching and there are tears in my eyes,
But I smile with bravado and do not cry.
He looks so confident, his head held high,
As he walks across the field under the azure sky.

Two years earlier I had brought his brother.
Not daring to dream that I would bring the other.
Now they stand together, what could be better?
One a new cadet, and the other a squad leader.

Memories of my cadet days come to mind,
Of long hard hours, dismounted drill, and double time.
Of clothing formations and leaders in my face.
Of sweating, learning, and trying to keep pace.

Now my son has shouldered the pack,
He has taken the plunge and hasn't looked back.
His dad is as proud as a man can be,
But he feels a little guilty as you maybe can see.

What made them want to be like their dad?
Was it the love of the army or life that they had?
Traveling around the world and seeing the sights.
Looking for adventure both by day and by night.

But the army is not just adventure, travel, and fun.
The army is commitment and hard work in the rain and the sun.
It is deployments and separations, guard duty and more.
It is self-sacrifice, hardship, and sometimes, even war.

But he has made his choice, it was his to make.
I pray he will not regret the decision for his own sake.
We need men and women who will take a stand.
And help make this country all it that it can.

He has the character, the dedication, and drive.
To be all he can be and in adversity survive.
He will be tired, frustrated, and knocked down,
But he will rise up with strength and go another round.

He will prevail and will become a better man,
All just a small part of our creator's master plan.
I know that he will succeed and do what is right.
He has our Lord guarding him by day and by night.

As I go to my knees to thank my Lord and Savior.
I am reminded that I have not ever had good behavior.
My cup overflows with blessings undeserved.
How could my Lord bless me so much, what nerve!

How could he have sent His son, Jesus, to die for me?
To be beaten so cruelly and nailed to a tree?
To wash away my sin required the blood of a perfect lamb,
And only His son Jesus could accomplish His plan.

Do you know the one I call my Lord Jesus?
He has promised to never leave nor forsake us.
Surrender your life to Him today,
All of your troubles and cares will fade away.

He has created you to be his precious daughter or son,
And he will love you like you are His only one.
So come to the Lord Jesus and do not delay,
Allow Him to be your Lord and Savior today!

                                                                  Patrick D. Rivette
                                                                  USMA, Class of 1971