Write Again . . . When I went to West Point

Published 5:26 pm Monday, July 21, 2014

Most people probably don’t know — and most people probably don’t give a rat’s rump — that I went to West Point.

That’s right. West Point. The United States Military Academy. At Highland Falls. Right beside the scenic — beautiful, really — Hudson River.

Fact is, I went four times. Oh, you thought I meant I was a cadet there. Nope. Three years active duty in the Army does not a cadet at West Point make.

I went to three ECU-West Point football games up in the storied Hudson Valley. All three were probably the most inspiring athletic events and venue I’ve ever experienced. It’s not easy to explain what it is, but when you first set foot on the reservation you are literally suffused with a sense of history and tradition. There’s a palpable sense of special-ness. The history of our country is inextricably linked with, bound up in this venerable institution. This is America at its finest. In every way.

When each football game ends, and after the teams have met to shake collective hands, the players then line up in formation in front of the Corps of Cadets. A complete hush falls over the entire stadium. Complete.

Then the music begins, and the cadets, the players, and many of those in the stadium — no one, not one soul, leaves until after this ritual — begin to sing the alma mater. It is almost unspeakably beautiful, haunting, and there’s many a misty eye among those assembled. Of course, I’m a veritable fountain.

My other time at West Point, my first time, came in ’85. I went up to compete in a Masters indoor track meet. It was wintertime, and the event took place in the field house. Our older daughter Sarah, then a junior in high school, and a friend of hers, went with me.

They were thrilled to attend an informal dance at Eisenhower Hall, and be the object of attention by a whole lot of cadets. That was quite an experience for these two Manteo High School girls. While there we stayed in the historic Hotel Thayer. What a wonderful, memory making experience for we three.

It’s been almost three decades since that special weekend. That time, and the subsequent trips for football games, are all a part of that which I now remember as very special times.

Oh. Did I mention that I went to West Point?