Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Day Trip #1 -- West Point

Just a short drive from where we live is West Point, the U.S. Army Military Academy. We went there on Thursday with Trent's parents. We took the 2 hour tour and unforunately missed seeing the museum (it was closed by the time our tour was complete). But the real treasure is just seeing the campus, it is beautfully situated on the Hudson river. The building are all beautiful - like the chapels (one of which has the largest organ in the United States) and the cemetary is very much akin to visiting Arlington. The tour guide had so many fun stories to share and also quite a few sad ones.

Here are just some of the facts we found interesting . . .
  • During the Revolutionary war, the army used the location where West Point would be to string a large chain across the Hudson river to block the British navy from coming further upstream. 
  • Nearly every general officer of note from either army during the Civil War was a graduate of West Point and a West Point graduate commanded the forces of one or both sides in every one of the 60 major battles of the war.  (which again just shows how the Civil War pitted friend against friend and brother against brother)
  • Benedict Arnold (the traitor) had a plaque with his name inside one of the buildings, but after he committed treason, they left the plaque and blacked his name out.  At first I thought that odd, wondering why they didn't just destroy the plaque, but then when you think about it for a while you realize that had they removed it, it would not serve as a constant reminder of what happens when one commits treason.  Every day, every tour, he is mentioned as a traitor to the United States.  If the plaque were gone, no one would probably mention it.
I was surprised at how emotional I was while walking through the newest sections of the cemetary, realizing that so many of the graduates (who are first class officers) are immediately deployed to lead our troops in battle and unfortunately do not return home.  Immediately after walking through that portion of the cemetary about 10 truckloads of current students (who are in summer training right now -- practicing war games) pulled up onto the big common area and unloaded and got into formation (they were dressed in full combat gear) both men and women and it was really touching to think how much these youth were willing to give for their country.


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