Founded in 1802, West Point is our nation’s oldest service academy. Graduates of West Point “serve this nation honorably, sharing a strong sense of purpose, pride, and satisfaction that comes from meaningful service to others.”
Attending the United States Military Academy is a wonderfully unique and challenging experience. West Point is a four-year college with a mission to develop leaders of character for our army—leaders who are inspired to careers as commissioned officers and lifetime service to the nation. The students of West Point (called cadets) are selected from the most talented, energetic, and well-rounded young people in the country. Located on 16,000 acres in the scenic Hudson Valley region of New York State, West Point is conveniently situated just fifty miles north of New York City. The year-round pageantry and tradition make the Military Academy a national treasure and a popular tourist spot. People come from all over the world to see cadets in action, and there is so much to see.
What do I remember most about West Point? It would be impossible for me to choose just one event. Perhaps it was marching with my class onto the parade field at the end of the very first day and taking the oath as my family and friends watched anxiously from the stands. Or maybe it was the exhilarating feeling of parachuting from an airplane 1,250 feet in the sky and the shock of seeing my parents waiting for me on the drop zone! Or it may very well have been the day I found out I passed physics. Or perhaps the day we beat Navy in football for the fifth straight year. Or the day I scored two goals in our Army-Navy lacrosse game and we won by one goal in the last second. Or it could have been when I was a squad leader and my squad successfully completed squad stakes competition and found our way home. Or perhaps the day I became platoon leader at CTLT (cadet troop leader training) at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Or it might have been when I shook the hand of the President of the United States after receiving my diploma. Now that was a day to remember.…
Choosing West Point opens the door to countless opportunities. Cadets receive a topnotch education, training in leader development, and numerous professional opportunities. They learn first how to be a follower, and then to be a leader—skills that will carry them in all of their life endeavors. Not to mention the fact that they are guaranteed a five-year job in the military.
So what makes West Point such a special place? West Point is more than a school; it is a tightly knit community. The officers and noncommissioned officers who serve as instructors at West Point share a special bond with the cadets. The students and their instructors at West Point are members of the same profession and are dedicated to the same principles of “duty, honor, and country.”
Cadets at West Point live under an Honor Code that states that “a cadet will not lie, cheat, or steal, or tolerate those who do.” The penalty for those who violate this code is serious. The Honor Code is meant to develop cadets into true leaders of character. Cadets internalize the importance of living honorably and carry this value with them into the army.
West Point is indeed a special place. Where else can you eat virtually every meal in less than twenty minutes with the entire student body? Where else can you march into a stadium on national television and be a part of the Army-Navy rivalry? Where else can you stop on the way to class and pose for a picture with tourists?
Where else can you make so many friends for a lifetime? At no other school does the word classmate mean so much. The bonds that are formed at West Point are unparalleled. On the very first day cadets are advised to “cooperate and graduate.” This mantra follows them through victories and defeats, through successes and failures, from reception day until graduation day. The West Point Experience prepares cadets for all that life has to offer. When they throw their hats in the air, they are truly ready to be all that they can be.