United States Military Academy
The United States Military Academy (USMA), also known as West Point, Army, Army West Point, The Academy, or simply The Point, is a four-year federal service academy in West Point, New York. It was originally established as a fort that sits on strategic high ground overlooking the Hudson River with a scenic view, 50 miles (80 km) north of New York City. It is the oldest of the five American service academies.
The academy was founded in 1802, one year after President Thomas Jefferson directed that plans be set in motion to establish the United States Military Academy at West Point. The entire central campus is a national landmark and home to scores of historic sites, buildings, and monuments. The majority of the campus's Norman-style buildings are constructed from gray and black granite. The campus is a popular tourist destination, with a visitor center and the oldest museum in the United States Army.
- Top 5 Reasons Hell is Better Than W.P.
5. You can't get thrown out of Hell
4. No one expects you to be perfect in Hell
3. You wouldn't tell your friend to 'go to West Point'
2. There are more women in Hell
1. Hell is forever, West Point just seems like it.
- Anonymous West Point cadet in a post on "happycadets.com", a now-defunct website with various jokes, parodies and remarks about West Point. As quoted by David Lipsky in Absolutely American: Four Years at West Point (2003), p. 192
- I came to love, really love, road marching. It's called a suck or a haze at West Point, but I think the cadets aren't being fair to it. There's something wonderful about being in a column of marching people: the gravel popping under soles, the leather flexing in boots, the kind of saddle-top sounds as the ruck (what a backpack gets called in the Army) frames settle. Occasionally someone, out of sheer misery, sighing Oooh, or just blowing out air, which in the general silence is like a whale breaching and then slipping back under the surface. You can watch a leaf float down from a tree or stare at the guy's rifle in front of you. The boiling of life down to its basic questions: Can you do this? Can you hang with the rest of us? Those questions don't get asked much, in the civilian world.
- David Lipsky, Absolutely American: Four Years at West Point (2003), p. xi
- Applying to West Point is a clerical road march. Fifty thousand high school juniors step off together, filling out the official request-for-information form. From there it's a test of stamina, a battle of attrition. Twelve thousand candidates complete the application. Six thousand make it to the physical aptitude examination stage, a fitness pop quiz- push-ups, pull-ups, standing long jump, three-hundred-yard dash. Service academies are the only institutions in the country that will measure how far you can toss a basketball from a kneeling position. (A little under seventy feet is the minimum.) Four thousand candidates are nominated by their senators or congressmen. The congressional nomination is a round-robin event, ten candidates competing for each slot, elected officials taking a turn as admissions officers, sifting through transcripts, recommendations, and clean-cut photographs. (Especially ambitious parents will snag jobs at a congressman's in-town headquarters, hoping to gain their kids an inside track.) If your parents are career military, you can jump the line and apply directly to the president. If one of them happens to be disabled, deceased, POW or MIA- or a recipient of the Medal of Honor- your file skips all the way to the superintendent's desk at West Point. Then the folks at admissions get down to the elimination round, stacking valedictorians against team captains, yearbook editors against debaters. Two thousand hardy candidates are pronounced qualified for admission, but only about twelve hundred get offered actual West Point places. They receive a plaque in the mail. In many small towns, friends and neighbors stop in for viewings.
- David Lipsky, Absolutely American: Four Years at West Point (2003), p. 141-142
- For ten minutes there's nothing. Because this is a way to commemorate loss: with an absence, with stillness, with nothing. A steady sprinkler noise of insects rises off the grass, treetops rustle like the sound of approaching water. A truck bumps down a distant road, dragging a hole through the quiet. The cadets stare out to where they sky ends behind the dark, bulky hills. The drill team fires a twenty-one-gun salute. Seven rifles, three shots apiece, each volley followed by a fluffy spreading echo. Then there's the night with its chilly smells of granite and grass and powder. The first slow notes of a bugle, a mournful taps: up the scale, over the scale, down the scale. Then the cadet bagpipe team begins. Matthew MacSweeney is with them, playing "Amazing Grace," with its frills and edges. Faraway music, crimped by sadness, to escort the week's losses over the Plain. After a moment, the cadets sing the alma mater. The sound is close to breathing, the faintest way four thousand people can sing one song. Then the cadets file out- the snap and click of shoes, a rush of gray and white, faces going visible in the light from doorways- and the night is left alone with itself. A quarter hour later, Josh Rizzo is back in his room, staring at his hand. "I didn't know if I was ready," he says, "until this shit happened. I mean, I came here originally to play baseball. But I know now, I'm here to defend this nation. I have no fears, no qualms about going." He runs his fingers over his ring. "It's weird. When I first got this ring, I thought, 'Look at this cool ring. I can get any job I want.' Now I look at it and I think, 'We are called.' I've got a job to do. I've got to defend my home."
- David Lipsky, Absolutely American: Four Years at West Point (2003), p. 262-263
- The graduates return to barracks for the final uniform change, then spread out across the post for their swearing-in ceremonies. George is sworn in by the rabbi. Captain Parades swears in a bunch of Guppies on the Plain. At a tent by the water, before his parents, Huck is sworn in by Major Vermeesch. His mother and father thank the officer for what he's practiced on their son. It's a long march to bring Vermeesch and Huck to this spot together. Before he leaves, the major hands Huck a gift, a copy of the military novel Once an Eagle. "Next to the Bible," Vermeesch says, "this is probably the best book ever written. Just read it, OK?" A couple months later, when Huck actually starts the novel, a memo on official West Point stationary falls from between the pages. He's not going to read it- he assumes the major stuck it there as a bookmark and then forgot about it. Then he glances at the subject line: it's the official record of their counseling session, from February 2000. There were all the TAC's warnings about "discipline" and "separation" and "questioning your desire to be an Army officer." In the upper right corner, beside the date 6/1/02, Vermeesch has scribbled in, "What a transformation. Continue to make us proud."
- David Lipsky, Absolutely American: Four Years at West Point (2003), p. 310-311
- "Duty, Honor, Country" — those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying point to build courage when courage seems to fail, to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith, to create hope when hope becomes forlorn... In my dreams I hear again the crash of guns, the rattle of musketry, the strange, mournful mutter of the battlefield. But in the evening of my memory always I come back to West Point. Always there echoes and re-echoes: Duty, Honor, Country. Today marks my final roll call with you. But I want you to know that when I cross the river, my last conscious thoughts will be of the Corps, and the Corps, and the Corps. I bid you farewell.
- High honors have come my way, but I shall always believe that my greatest honor was being a West Point graduate. The Military Academy has taught me many things, some of them not within the covers of books or written by any man.
The first of these is tolerance: not to debase or deprive those from whom one may differ by character or custom, by race or color or distinction.
The second is balance: a sense of proportion and ability to put first things first. A realization that there is a time and place for everything, but a recognition of the old maxim "nothing too much"- what the ancients meant by the "golden mean".
The third is intelligence, rather than sentiment or emotion. Sentimentalism has muddled many problems, has settled none. Intellect is a man's only hope for improvement over his present state.
- And last, but by no means least, is courage: moral courage- the courage of one's convictions- the courage to see a thing through. This is not easy. The world is in constant conspiracy against the brave. It is the age-old struggle of the roar of the crowd on one side and the voice of your conscience on the other.
Tolerance, balance, intelligence, courage. These should be the hallmarks of every graduate of the Military Academy at West Point.
- Douglas MacArthur, remarks to a delegation of cadets from the United States Military Academy at West Point on the occasion of MacArthur's eighty-fourth birthday, on January 26, 1964. Since MacArthur's retirement from active duty in 1952, West Point had maintained a tradition of sending cadets to visit MacArthur on his birthday each year. Their visit in 1964 was the last. As quoted in A Soldier Speaks: Public Papers and Speeches of General of the Army Douglas MacArthur (1965), edited by Vorin E. Whan, Jr., p. 366-367
- As I was leaving the hotel this morning, a doorman asked me, "Where are you headed, General?" and when I replied, "West Point," he remarked, "Beautiful place. Have you ever been there before?"
- Douglas MacArthur, Reminiscences (1964), p. 423
- Punishment of cadets had been artfully crafted. In the early nineteenth century, West Point officials deemed manual labor an inappropriate punishment for a cadet: It would have been an ungentlemanly task for a future officer. But they could make him do something that was tiring, embarrassing, and, most excruciating, accomplished nothing. So cadets ever since have been awarded "Area tours," each representing an hour- two hours on Friday afternoon, and then three on Saturday- walking in our dress gray uniforms with rifles across the Area. As my bemused father explained to me, the Area does not make you smarter, braver, or more expert; even trench digging would offer some tangible benefit. At the academy, where we hoarded free minutes, walking the yard meant wasted hours.
- Stanley McChrystal, My Share of the Task, p. 14-15
- When I entered West Point, some Americans still believed the Vietnam War might end honorably. By the time I graduated, South Vietnam did not exist. As cadets, we watched the war teeter and implode, and the historical sweep was not lost on us.
- Stanley McChrystal, My Share of the Task, p. 17
- On Wednesday, June 2, 1976, I graduated and my father commissioned me as a second lieutenant. Our graduation ceremony was where we'd begun our cadet experience, at Michie Stadium. As I sat with 834 other members of my class, out of an original 1,378, waiting to receive our diplomas, I realized I was very different from the seventeen-year-old boy whose friend had dropped him off a few years earlier. I wondered if I could, or would, be the kind of military leader I admired, and I was eager to try. When the ceremony ended, in accordance with tradition, we launched our hats into the air and congratulated one another. I rapidly looked for Annie- and the exit. As quickly as possible, I threw everything I owned into the used Chevy Vega I'd bought and set course with Annie down the hill away from campus. As we neared the last bend before the academy gates, I turned to her. "Hey, look back at West Point." "Why?" she asked, twisting in her seat to look at the tips of the parapets getting smaller behind the hills. "Because that's the last time we'll ever see it."
- Stanley McChrystal, My Share of the Task, p. 22
- While I was never over-romanced by the West Point graduate, at the same time, I always felt, by God, a West Pointer ought to be damn good.
- George S. Patton IV, as quoted by Brian M. Sobel in The Fighting Pattons (1997), p. 22
- It was one of those hot days and it got to be about a hundred degrees, and old Mike just got fed up and threw his books in the corner, and said, 'See ya later, Doc, I'm going to war.' Next thing we heard, he was in Italy with the 3rd Division, where he later was awarded the Medal of Honor and received a battlefield promotion.
- George S. Patton IV, as quoted by Brian M. Sobel in The Fighting Pattons (1997), on Michael J. Daly, who attended the United States Military Academy alongside Patton for one year. p. 27
- A great transformation came over West Point. Many of the staff and faculty who had been there previously were non-combat experienced and had been called up from civilian life. Then in came the new superintendent, General Maxwell D. Taylor, who brought to the Department of Tactics a collection of the finest officers that I have ever known before, or since.
- George S. Patton IV, as quoted by Brian M. Sobel in The Fighting Pattons (1997), p.27
- The lessons of West Point are many, but the Academy has been the source of discipline, courage, and strength for many of its graduates in both peace and war since its founding in 1802.
- George S. Patton IV, as quoted by Brian M. Sobel in The Fighting Pattons (1997), p. 28
- Of all the institutions in this country, none is more absolutely American; none, in the proper sense of the word, more absolutely democratic than this. Here we care nothing for the boy's birthplace, nor his creed, nor his social standing; here we care nothing save for his worth as he is able to show it. Here you represent, with almost mathematical exactness, all the country geographically. You are drawn from every walk of life by a method of choice made to insure, and which in the great majority of cases does insure, that heed shall be paid to nothing save the boy's aptitude for the profession into which he seeks entrance. Here you come together as representatives of America in a higher and more peculiar sense than can possibly be true of any other institution in the land.
- Theodore Roosevelt, speaking at the West Point centennial in 1902, as quoted in Absolutely American: Four Years at West Point (2003) by David Lipsky, p. ii
- It was one thing to decide to go to West Point, another to get there.
- Maxwell D. Taylor, Swords and Plowshares (1972), p. 23
- During my cadet years, West Point was still a military cloister, linked tenuously to the outside world by the West Shore Railway, the excursion boats on the Hudson, and a winding road leading westward into New Jersey. A cadet normally entered the Academy in July and never left it on vacation until his second Christmas. In the meantime, he led a completely regimented life, arising at six, going to bed at ten and rarely having a moment without a duty to occupy it.
- Maxwell D. Taylor, Swords and Plowshares (1972), p. 25
- I graduated on June 13, number 4 in a class of 102. General MacArthur gave me my diploma and his "Congratulations, Mr. Taylor" was the last time I heard his voice until, as the new Chief of Staff of the Army, I called on him in the Waldorf Towers in 1956. Although he had done much for the Corps of Cadets during his superintendency, oddly enough he had never made an effort to impress his personality on the cadets through direct communication with them. I do not ever recall his having made a speech to us and only a few cadets were ever asked to his house. Certainly no graduate has left greater evidence of deep affection for West Point and the Corps than MacArthur, but the cadets saw little of this during his superintendency.
- Maxwell D. Taylor, Swords and Plowshares (1972), p. 28
- An officer corps, my West Point education emphasized, must have a code of ethics that tolerates no lying, no cheating, no stealing, no immorality, no killing other than that recognized under international rules of war and essential for military victory. Yet I also learned to my chagrin that there are those who fail the standards and that the code must be constantly policed. I saw failures at West Point, and for all my preventive efforts, I also saw failures among those who subsequently served under my command. Yet if an officer corps is to serve the nation as it should, firm dedication to a high moral code must always be the goal. One of the most exciting events of my plebe year was the commencement address by the Army Chief of Staff, General MacArthur, who was much as any man extolled such a code. Already a distinguished soldier even before World War II and the Korean War, General MacArthur spoke at a time when pacifism and economy imperiled the military services and the nation's security. While warning against misguided pacifism and politically inspired economy, he spoke of West Point as "the soul of the Army". "The military code that you perpetuate," he said, "has come down to us from even before the age of knighthood and chivalry. It will stand the test of any code of ethics or philosophy."
- William Westmoreland, A Soldier Reports (1976), p. 11
- Returning home on leave following my second year at West Point, I called on a great-uncle who had joined the Confederate Army at the age of sixteen and had fought in a number of major Civil War battles, including Gettysburg, and had been with Robert E. Lee at Appamatox. My Uncle White was the younger brother of my grandfather. He hated Yankees and Republicans, not necessarily in that order, and talked derisively about both. When I visited, he was seated in a wheel chair, in grudging acquiescence to the infirmities of age. Tobacco juice decorated his shirt and stains around a spittoon on the floor testified to the inaccuracy of his aim. Flies buzzed through screenless windows. "What are you doing with yourself, son?" Uncle White asked. I answered the old veteran with trepidation. "I'm going to that same school that Grant and Sherman went to, the Military Academy at West Point, New York." Uncle White was silent for what seemed like a long time. "That's all right, son," he said at last. "Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson went there too."
- William Westmoreland, A Soldier Reports (1976), p. 12
- As graduation neared, neither my classmates nor I could know, of course, that World War II was in the offing. It was destined to expose us to trying and often tragic events. My roommate, Billy Hulse, a flier, disappeared on a training mission over the Great Lakes, his body never recovered. A close friend, Frank Oliver, died in the fighting in Normandy soon after the invasion. Buist Dowling killed in Normandy while leading a patrol. One of the better football players, Jock Clifford, killed as a regimental commander on Okinawa. Bill Priestly, aide to the high commissioner of the Philippines, electing to stay when the fighting started on the islands, also killed. Those and more.
- William Westmoreland, A Soldier Reports (1976), p. 13