Some 'OO' Facts of West Point
From the Obvious to the Obscure
The United States Military Academy at West Point,
NY is the oldest military post in the United States (since 1778).
West Point is also the oldest military academy
in the U.S., established 1802.
West Point is possibly the oldest true university
in the U.S., with education in math and the sciences. Harvard (and
Yale) claim this honor, but they were established as divinity schools.
Math and science didn't become a major part of their cirriculum until the
Of West Point's first two graduates, one was
a Christian, and the other a Jew.
Of 60 battles fought in the Civil War, 55 saw
West Point graduates commanding on BOTH sides of the conflict. In
the remaining battles, a West Point graduate commanded on one of the two
West Point has only 4000 cadets (total) because
that's the number the Congress of the United States has mandated for the
institution. Prior to 1964, the number was 2,529.
Even though cadets can major in such subjects
as diverse as English, History, or Political Science, every graduating
cadet receives a Bachelor of Science degree.
Many people assume West Point teaches the 'art
of war'. It does not. It's main cirriculum is in the sciences and
humanities. If you want to become a general, leading thousands of
troops in battle, you first have to go to command school, and then the
U.S. Army War College.
West Point is not just a campus, or a military
post - it's actually a military reservation.
The Corp of Cadets has representatives from every
state in the union, most U.S. possessions, and several foreign countries.
Females were first admitted to West Point in
1976. Currently they represent 17% of all cadets - the same percentage
as in the U.S. Army.
Why did the U.S. establish a
military 'college'? So our country wouldn't have to depend on foreign
engineers and artillerists during times of conflict.
Who originally designed West
Point? Thaddeus Kosciuszko, an engineer who learned his trade in
How good a job did Kosciuszko
do? Fortress West Point was never captured by the British, despite
Benedict Arnold's treason.
How important was West Point's
location in the 1700's? General George Washington considered West
Point to be the most important strategic position in America.
Speaking of 'Washingtons', West
Point grad George Washington Whistler (1819) was chosen by the czar of
Russia to build the first railroad between Moscow and St. Petersburg.
West Point is the offical silver
bullion depository for the United States (gold is at Ft. Knox). It
is also a U.S. Mint, the only one making gold coins for our government.
Thayer gate at West Point is
exactly 41 miles from Central Park in Manhattan (as the 'crow flies'),
and about the same milage to Bridgeport, Conn. on the Long Island Sound.
Although Manhattan is larger
than West Point, it's not by much. 28 sq. mi. compared to West Point's
25 sq. mi.
West Point has only awarded
Bachelor (undergraduate) degrees, EXCEPT that from 1988 -93, it awareded
Masters degrees in Leadership Development. The students were future
tactical officers of West Point (TAC's). The Congress of the United
States stopped the program.
Richard Hatch, the winner of
the CBS summer show 'Survivor', an ultimate 'game player' who used an 'alliance'
to gain advantage over his competitors, was a cadet at West Point for 2
years (did he misunderstand the values within the cadet honor code?)
Although the cadet management
of the honor code was an unofficial tradition, Superintendent of the USMA,
Douglas MacArthur formalized it with the creation of the Cadet Honor Committee.
Robert E. Lee, the General-in-Chief
of the Confederate Armies was not only a West Point graduate (1829), but
also served as the superintendent of West Point (1852 - 1855).
Andrea Lee Hollen, the first
woman graduate of West Point, was a Rhodes scholar (1980).
Gen. George S. Patton, one of
the greatest leaders during World War II, took 5 years to graduate West
Point (when only 4 was allowed), was the 'goat' (last) of his graduating
class, and who's statue at West Point faces the library, a place, it's
said, he never visited during his tenure there.
Gen. George Armstrong Custer,
of Indian war 'fame', was a brilliant Civil War leader, and was the first
Union general to accept the Confederate flag of truce at the war's end.
He was also the 'goat' of his class (1861), and was court-martialed shortly
after graduation for failure to break up a fight between two cadets.
The 1st Division Barracks building,
a red brick building within the central courtyard, was built in 1851.
Some of it's notable residents include John Schofield & Philip Sheridan
(1853), John J. Pershing (1886), Douglas MacArthur (1903), George S. Patton
(1909), Matthew B. Ridgway (1917), and Norman Schwartzkopf (1956) of 'Desert
Highland Falls, the town right
outside the Thayer gate, has only one fast food restaurant, a McDonalds,
that has two 'Claims to Fame': it's the only McDonalds known that
delivers, and it's located on West Point land. The 'good folks' of
Highland Falls wouldn't allow zoning for it.
West Point sports has had some
very good coaches over the years, including Vince Lombardi (ass't. football),
and Bobby Knight (head - basketball).
Thirty-two West Pointers have
been pictured on postage stamps, including thirty graduates and two other
distinguished attendees of the academy -- Edgar Allan Poe and James (Abbott)
McNeill Whistler. Ulysses S. Grant (1843) has appeared on forty different
postage issues. He is followed closely by Dwight D.Eisenhower (1915) who
has appeared on thirty-seven stamps.
Today's seniors ('firsties')
claim they are 'slighted' compared to the '2004' class: TV's and
phones in the rooms, a spring break, and no 'pinging' in the central area.
But they forget that not that many years ago, cadets went 11 months before
they could leave West Point.
West Point was the first school
in the U.S. to use rings as a class symbol. The tradition started
in 1835, and has been continuous with the exception of 1836 (no rings),
and 1879 (cuff links).
More to follow