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Soldier's Heart PDF Print E-mail

'Soldier's Heart': Why we ask West Point cadets to wrestle with poetry
Elizabeth Samet writes of her decade spent teaching literature at West Point.

By MARJORIE KEHE

 Elizabeth Samet has been teaching literature to cadets at West Point since 1996. It's not a career Samet would have envisioned for herself during her student days at Harvard and Yale (and certainly not as a teen at an all-girls school in Boston) but, as she makes clear in Soldier's Heart: Reading Literature through Peace and War at West Point, a thoughtful meditation on her work there, it's become a calling.

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“Throughout our history men of West Point have served their country with honor and distinction. In peace and in war they have played a significant role in the development of our nation. They have made a substantial contribution to the position now enjoyed by the United States. If much has been done in the past, much remains to be done in the future. The great scientific developments of the last few years have compressed time and vastly increased power. They have, in fact, moved us into a new age. Whether or not these changes spell progress and improvement depends to a large extent upon the wisdom and character of those who are now in the schools and colleges of our country. You and your generation are the future. You who are at West Point have a particular responsibility because of the opportunities you enjoy and the dependence that will be placed upon you…”

General Lauris Norsad, USAF
Air Deputy to SUPREME Allied Commander, Europe, Founderís Day message, March 1954
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