Last Updated: 11/24/98
|Parents of West Point Cadets are very proud of their sons and daughters, now young men and women learning to be Officers, Ladies and Gentlemen. The reasons for this pride in our Cadets and the support we give them are reflected in these tributes written by West Point parents from across our nation and around the world.|
Actual names are used except
where anonymity was requested.
All are parents unless otherwise noted.
From a Parent...
When our daughter was deciding which college to attend, there could have been NOTHING further from our minds than the United States Military Academy.
Sure, we have visited West Point as a tourist attraction and had been very proud when we saw the young men and women there. However, when our own daughter decided that this is what she wanted all we could say was, "But that means you will be in the Army, are you crazy?"
We did all we could to dissuade her but when the time came and she had not changed her mind, we did all we could to help her, including throwing basketballs down our street for three months to get her in shape for the physical fitness part. Now it is almost three years later. Our daughter is a "cow" and doing beautifully. We have met wonderful families and Cadets. We are totally involved in West Point activities. Most of all, we are so proud of all the men and women who make up the Corp of Cadets.
If you want to see teenagers whom you will not be afraid to "turn over the country to" instead of teens who have no other thoughts in their heads than trying to sail through college just to get it done, come to West Point. Dedication is too narrow a word to describe this school's teachers, organization is too small a word to describe the planning that goes into the education, and the result is a young person that you couldn't have invented yourself!
We support our son's decision to attend the United States Military Academy because it's an unparalleled opportunity to participate in a great education, develop meaningful skills and training, and prepare for a solid career.
Where else can a young person develop so many fine friendships and be exposed to so many bright classmates, while being bombarded with so many professional role models. It's truly a unique experience full of challenges and demands that are excellent preparation for the future.
The underlying tenants and principles are proven and valuable ... or even outstanding. Old-fashioned values are preached and practiced. The leadership mission is clear while the Army family continues to be a living team. Beyond the pomp and circumstance ... there's so much to being part of one of America's premier higher education laboratories.
Where else is a big Saturday night for a college freshmen a walk to the PX for the drink of "choice", Gatorade?? (:>
I work as a public transit operator.
One day, before our son's R-Day, a student from his high school was on my coach, heading home. A conversation developed during which I mentioned that our son had accepted an appointment to West Point and was headed there soon. This student, who had the typical marks of parental neglect, hung his head and said quietly, "He must have character."
When he was President of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia, after the war, Bob Lee would counsel a wayward scholar with, "You wouldn't want me to think badly of your mother, would you?"
This is why I am happy our son is at West Point.
I would support my son whatever his decision for his college education. West Point is so much more than just a college education.
He has just come home for the first time since we left him on R-day. He has done the normal things he would do on a weekend in this community and everywhere he goes people ask how he is doing. They ask about West Point and they all want to be a part of it. He went to his usual place for a haircut and it took 45 minutes because the barber wanted to talk to him, introduce him to other customers as a West Point Cadet. People want to shake his hand and somehow stand in the aura of something, someone very special to all of us. We live in a small community but I'm sure others experience the same sort of awe.
After Acceptance Day Parade [August 15, 1998, for the Bicentennial Class of 2002, who were welcomed by a member of every West Point Class with a living member] I came home and told many people that the nation should have witnessed this.
The news is so discouraging and to see the strength and continuity of this country, to see it's leaders past and present meet on the Plain was the most encouraging experience I have had in a long time.
I support my son at West Point because I believe it is truly an honor to be chosen to be a part of such a tremendous institution. He is a part of this nation's history, and with God's grace an important part of it's future. He honors his mother and father and his community by his commitment to duty, honor and country.
He believed West Point was a place where he could be judged by a set of fair standards that were universally applied. He believed that if he worked hard, studied well, and excelled in whatever he did, the appropriate recognition would be given. He believed strongly in the "Team Concept" -- that you win through being a strong team member. Lastly, he desires to give back to others through service, and the United States Army provides him an opportunity to fulfill this desire.
I truly believe West Point offers our son the best opportunity to fulfill his beliefs and desires.
So began the process that would consume Stephen, his mother and I for the next nine months. We had no idea Stephen was interested in the military, much less West Point. In fact, a grand irony occurs to me as I recall he had no guns, no G.I. Joe's or anything military. Still, his statement needed attention. We did not ask him why; we did not try to steer him elsewhere; rather, we got behind him and made his admissions process a priority. It was not easy.
All went well through the spring and into the summer until an official document came from DODMERB -- the military medical screening board. Seems there were questions about some fractures -- send the x-rays and doctor's statements. Hurdle met; hurdle cleared. Vision test was questioned -- have it done again. Hurdle met; hurdle missed. Stephen's vision was a toss up between the two conflicting reports. Off to Great Lakes Naval Base for an "official" military test. Hurdle cleared!! Admission granted in December 1994.
The worst was yet to come. Letters almost daily during Beast. Boodle sent regularly fall of Plebe year. Email up and running with almost daily support letters from mom, dad and sisters -- even grandma sent a few! Christmas was wonderful until the night Stephen had to go back. Never have I before or since seen our son break down and sob the way he did. He did not want to return. He wanted to be like his friends at home, but he wanted to go back. It was tough love on our part that put him on the plane.
Life improved as a Yearling and a Cow. He has met a wonderful young lady whom he will marry after graduation. He proudly wears his West Point ring and looks forward to our visit over Labor Day. Graduation can almost, ever so slightly, be sensed as a reality.
And where have we been as parents? Beside Stephen always. He is not the premier cadet, but he is an honorable man. He has been shaped by the ethics of West Point and refined in the fires of rigorous demands. He has come through all of this, not unscathed, but all the same, better for the experience. The lessons Stephen has learned will take him far beyond leading as a 2nd LT. His lessons are for a lifetime. No matter where he serves -- military or civilian -- West Point has given his character a sheen never found in general academics. There is a pride in his step that speaks not of arrogance, but of self-assuredness; not of pomposity, but of confidence; not of ignorance, but of knowledge -- knowledge imparted in the classroom, on the fields of friendly strife, in the ranks of cadets, and in all he has done as a Cadet at West Point.
Indeed, the lessons have been painful and tough. Yet, those lessons will serve Stephen and all Cadets for a lifetime. We are proud to be among the parents of Cadets at West Point. We are proud to support the ideals of an institution approaching 200 years of quality
It all centers around healthy challenge. Son #1 could have gone to MIT, Cal Tech, Harvard or Princeton with his 800 Math SAT and grades, but guess what? He didn't want to be just a "nerd." For him, the physical is more of a challenge than the mental, and since West Point included the physical as an integral part of their program, that looked good to him.
As an Eagle Scout by the time he was 14, he also had the concept of serving inculcated into his character, and what better place to do it? When we asked him about his final decision between the two academies, Air Force and West Point, he said, "Mom, I think it would be more noble to be a leader of men, than to be a master of a machine." (i.e., a pilot, even though he was physically pilot qualified).
Here's another interesting tidbit. When the Princeton admissions officer called him regarding his final choice, and Chad told him it was going to be West Point, the officer hesitated a minute, then said, "I can't fault you there, son, that's my alma mater."
What do we think they will get at West Point that they might not have at their other opportunities? Moral and ethical character development. Emphasis on integrity. The opportunity to understand the rewards of endurance and perseverance firsthand. Commitment. The experience at West Point requires priority-setting and time management, while at the same time is protected/structured enough to insure success like no other environment we know. Leadership skills. A broader-based education than is required or rewarded elsewhere. The best of academics.
Son #2, whom we thought was going to choose Air Force Academy, also went with West Point, partly because of his brother's success and satisfaction there, but mostly because after visitations both places, he felt most comfortable at West Point, even though it's on the other side of the continent from home.
As it turned out for our son, the wait was an extra year due to a medical discharge two weeks before R-Day for the class of 2000. He underwent the required surgery and rehab for the next eight months and reapplied, attending a University near home for that year.
The endurance for this all had to be his own. We encouraged him and supported him with our prayers and advice. We think he made the right decision to attend West Point. He is made of leadership character and the essence of determination.
He is a proud member of the Class of 2001, Till Duty Is Done. We are proud of his accomplishments in many and varied activities offered at West Point, from the Dean's List, academically, to Crew Team, athletically, to Big Brother Club, socially, to Navigators Bible Study, spiritually, and probably much more, shaping him into the man God intended him to be. We're glad to be part of the process on the sidelines, cheering him on every step of the march ahead.
During W.W.II, Hollis C. Hurst, Sr. was drafted and assigned to the Army Air Corp. In the spring of 1944, Hurst applied to and was tested for acceptance at West Point. While waiting for a decision, he went to radio school at Scott Field. He received his notification of acceptance one day after the entrance date. In March of 1945, he made a second application to West Point. During this time he was a radio operator in a B29 flying out of Jamaica on submarine patrol. Before the reply came from West Point, he was transferred to Harvard, Nebraska. There he trained for bombing missions over Japan with Guam as his base. The second acceptance caught up with him at Mather Field in California when he was en route to Guam. Again, it was one day too late to enter West Point. His superior Officer called to plead his case ... as we all know!! -- to no avail!! He did fly 17 missions over Japan and later retired as Lt. Colonel.
When my son, Hollis C. Hurst III, '01, was in his first semester Plebe year at West Point, we learned of his granddad's efforts. Granddad attended PPW in March 1998, and saw his name (his grandson's name) over the barracks door -- it was an emotional time. Yes, we feel it is an awesome privilege and responsibility to accept this challenge.
Cadet Patrick J. Culpepper was raised in an Army family. His whole young life has been around the military. With that comes the understanding of self-sacrifice, duty, honor and loyalty. I remember when he was in Kindergarten and his teacher asked him "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Patrick answered the question quickly stating he was going to be in the military. Throughout his years, he added to it, but never waivered far from it. He had set his long term goal, and has worked on it, attaining short term goals he set along the way.
I look at what is happening around the world, and it is not a comforting thought knowing that my son will be put in situations that may cost him his life. At the foremost of keeping America's Values and safeguarding our Freedoms, he has chosen this as his occupation.
I am proud of my son for the fact that he has set his own goals for his life, and is attaining them. Attending West Point was a long term goal when he was in elementary school and high school. That has now become a stepping stone to attaining his next long-term goal. What is his final goal in life? Who knows, but I will always support him in any decision he makes.
I can only protect him for a few short years as a parent, shielding him from all that is out in the wide open world. It is now time to rest comfortably knowing I gave him all the guidance I could. Now is the time for him to remember that he has my unconditional support and my unconditional love. I have cried over letters, wishing I could hold him and comfort him when he is down. My heart has ached when things weren't going 100% great for him. I have listened to the hard times, and have held my tongue, and just gave him my understanding. The hardest part of being a parent for me has been having to accept the fact that he is an adult now. The best part of being a parent is knowing he is doing what he wants to do and is happy.
I am very proud of my Cadet. I know in my heart he is doing what HE wants to do, and that alone makes me smile.
Although my son graduated last year, I remain active in our local West Point Parents' Club. To me, the principles of Duty, Honor, Country which form the heart and soul of the USMA are a code which every good citizen should warmly embrace. When the Tricentennial rolls around, I have no doubt that the Academy will still be faithfully fulfilling its mission in time-honored fashion.
I and my son are grateful for the excellent instruction that the Army provided. While many institutions can give a young person an education, only West Point builds the character, instills the discipline, and teaches the leadership techniques it takes to become a success.
Not the negative but the positive. He's worked so hard to be a person he can be proud of. By deciding to attend West Point not only can he continue to be that person, it will teach him how to build on that foundation.
My chest fills up with pride at the thought that I am walking the same gray line as so many of the greats in history. The endless tales I heard in High School about such people as GEN MacArthur and GEN Patton all take on a brand new meaning here. We don't take what we have for granted. From honor classes to the structural beauty of West Point, we are reminded with every step that we are the few who were chosen from so many to take on this challenge. We have made it through a great struggle and survived as a team. God only knows where we would be without each other.
To our families: We miss you all dearly. You are thought of constantly. We pray each night that the following day will find our families and friends in good health. As we walk to class each day, we are reminded of loving words you all said to us. Maybe something in the surroundings reminds us, or perhaps it was the day's activities, but each day, we hear your voices reassuring us as you did before we left your loving arms. We love you dearly.
I have always been in awe of West Point even though I had no direct knowledge or relationship to it. It's one of those pinnacle points -- you just say, "West Point," and everyone can nod and smile and say, "Ah!"
My husband and I are very proud that our son made the commitment to getting to West Point, to being the best he can be there, and to wanting to serve his country in whatever capacity he may be needed. Of course, we're also glad for the opportunities that will come his way but I think overall that duty, honor and country are what make us the proudest.
We have been able to visit there twice now and plan at least two more visits. It's a place every American should visit. It's our heritage and our future. We also have met many
I'm very proud to be related to the Long Gray Line -- even if only as a spectator.
But, her pursuit of an appointment to just one US Service Academy, West Point, in the summer of 1997, went beyond our comprehension. She is only too proud to serve her country in exchange for attending the best institution for education and leadership training in the world.
Our Cadet is a member of the "Bicentennial Class of 2002." We support her efforts to ensure the tradition of the "LONG GRAY LINE." She can "BE ALL SHE CAN BE" (with the support of her family) in the Army!
No, those four years were nothing like the four he would have spent at University of Virginia (where we was set to go) or Duke (his 2nd choice). On his first visit home from the Academy, Labor Day, his high school buddies met him at the airport. He was in uniform, they were not, just the first of many differences between these young men that we, and they, would notice.
His friends were amazed at the experiences our son already had between the end of high school and the start of the academic year at West Point. The grueling summer spent repelling mountains, marching miles and miles in full battle gear, getting "gassed" all became great stories to tell.
When the academic year started, we quickly realized the pros and cons of electronic mail. It was a blessing to be able to communicate with our son, but we soon realized that he and his buddies were communicating too. They were having a ball at college and relaying their "war" stories to him in record time! "Jail" quickly became the favorite term when referring to West Point. Needless to say, our hearts were at times heavy for this only child of ours. There were many tears that Plebe year, ours, not his. We knew this was a good decision, but he was the one having to pay the price, not us.
If we knew then what we know now . . . . there would have been no heavy heart. Yes, it is tough. Yes, it is demanding. No, it was not his "idea of college life". But, during graduation week when he and his West Point buddies began reminiscing about the past four years, the tears running down our cheeks were from laughing at the stories we were hearing! Don't let anyone tell you differently - - those kids have fun! It may not be the typical college life fun, but nonetheless, it's fun! And though the fun times are hard earned and not a daily happening, they are even more valued.
As parents, we had a ball the whole four years! There is no greater place to visit and as a mother, my most comforting thought, especially during Plebe year, was "It's ll:00 PM and I KNOW where my son is!"
Today we are the proud parents of a 2LT in the United States Army who went from saying "that's not my idea of college life" to "I'll still be young enough to start my own company when I retire from the Army!"