Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter

I'm feeling particularly blessed today.

Sally and I celebrated Founder's Day with the West Point Society of Connecticut last night at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville, and as always, I came away feeling recharged and enthusiastic, both about my place in the Long Grey Line and about where we are as a family in general.

Sally & I took a selfie outside the Aqua Turf Club.
The bartender took this shot.  It was open bar!
I've had a lot of go right in my life.  Challenges overcome; opportunities seized; recognition paid for work that mattered. I feel it today because it's Easter, and also because it was Founder's Day, and because it's Spring, and the world is about to start blooming again.

We've been richly blessed.  Every day is not the mountaintop, but we can see it sometimes.

That's worth a lot.

Today I want to give thanks for all the opportunities and for the strength to meet whatever challenges have come head-on.  Not to get all "Duty, Honor, Country" on you, but as I get older, the true importance of the Cadet Prayer becomes clearer to me.  I find myself praying for that strength now--often.

When you're a cadet, it's easy to be cynical, to take for granted all the flag-waiving patriotism, to think less of those who buy-in whole-heartedly.  West Point ladels all the rah-rah on pretty thickly.  More than that, though, is the fact that cadets are self-selecting.  Folks may go for whatever reason, but ultimately, everyone stays because they come to believe in the mission.

I had this suit made in Korea in 1999.  I wore it last night
because I'm back in the gym, so my newer suits were all too
small through the chest and shoulders.
It's easy to lose perspective in such an environment.  I mean, I may not like every single one of my classmates on a deep personal level, but they are all still classmates.  Brothers and sisters in arms.  They all did their duty, and I ultimately trust them--all of them--when it counts.

This is the culture that underlies West Point, and it's amazing when you're in Beast Barracks, but by the time you've been at the Academy for a couple of years, you will have taken for granted that these are your friends.  That this is the caliber of people with whom you associate.  Even after you graduate, you take your commission--your rightful place amongst the leaders of character who have chosen to serve the common defense.

Most Army officers are great people.  Hell, most soldiers are great people.

Unfortunately, though, the rest of the world isn't like that, and it is only through the passage of years that perspective returns.  That you come to realize that the very thing that has made you successful is what they taught you when you were eighteen.  Be a part of the team.  Give, freely.  Do your duty, and don't shirk.  Tell the truth, even when that truth sucks.  Do something, anything, even if it's the wrong thing.  Don't let your moment pass you by.

It's Easter, and as I said, I have been richly blessed.  I am thankful.  Ultimately, I am most thankful for the attitude I learned at West Point, which is increasingly best-summarized--at least for me--in the Cadet Prayer.

O God, our Father, Thou Searcher of human hearts, help us to draw near to Thee in sincerity and truth. May our religion be filled with gladness and may our worship of Thee be natural.

Strengthen and increase our admiration for honest dealing and clean thinking, and suffer not our hatred of hypocrisy and pretence ever to diminish. Encourage us in our endeavor to live above the common level of life. Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never to be content with a half truth when the whole can be won. 

Endow us with courage that is born of loyalty to all that is noble and worthy, that scorns to compromise with vice and injustice and knows no fear when truth and right are in jeopardy. 

Guard us against flippancy and irreverence in the sacred things of life. Grant us new ties of friendship and new opportunities of service. Kindle our hearts in fellowship with those of a cheerful countenance, and soften our hearts with sympathy for those who sorrow and suffer. 

Help us to maintain the honor of the Corps untarnished and unsullied and to show forth in our lives the ideals of West Point in doing our duty to Thee and to our Country. 

All of which we ask in the name of the Great Friend and Master of all.


Happy Easter, everyone.

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