The Military Academy Essay, Research Paper
Duty, Honor, Country
There are many military academies in the United States. It never occurred to me that I would be interested in the military after reading Ender s Game written by Scott Card; a book about a kid that saved earth from the buggers. War games, all the boys are organized into armies (Card 17). That s how it is in the military. Hard work. Studies Military history. Strategy and tactics (Card 17). I know a couple of things about the military but I want to know about the schools. I saw a few movies of battles and wars. In movies it depicted the cadets as disciplined individuals that fought for their country. I want to know about the best military academy in the US and how it performs today.
As I was about to start my research I went online and searched for military schools and I got a number of results on military schools, but one that stood out was an academy called West Point. I hoped to find a lot of information about this academy. I didn t waste any time going to the library so I went straight to Barnes and Nobles and bought a book titled Duty, Honor, Country A History of West Point. I was thrilled because it was exactly what I was looking for. Charles Dickens once said In this beautiful place, the fairest among the fair and lovely Highlands of the North River, shut in by deep green heights and ruined forts is the Military School of America (Ambrose inside cover).
The launch of this academy was due to America s knowledge with the military. West Point looked upon the direction of Europeans; for their guidance and inspiration but most importantly it gave them examples of what should be avoided. They adapted the ideas of the Europeans and made use of them by extracting the usable experience and creating it into their own institution (Ambrose 1).
Americans recognized the need for an academy. The first who wanted this was Colonial Knox of the artillery (weaponry). Before the war he owned The London Book Store in Boston. He was also a member of a militia company. By himself he studied science and engineering, and when the war began he was signed up to join the army around the Boston area. Later on, George Washington made him a chief of artillery. He was very organized and called many academies for the instruction of the art military (Ambrose 9). I wasn t really excited about all of this so I turned to the cadet life chapter. The faculties pushed, hammered and pulled the boys to be perfect Christian gentlemen. The methods they used were clear: attendance at church, cold rooms in the winter, hot in the summer, mediocre food, and no leisure time. The academy didn t just want the boys to be perfect Christian gentleman; they wanted Christian soldiers with honor, duty, loyalty and courage. This was accentuated here more than anywhere else (Ambrose 147). For Cadets the rules were much stricter and the lives were worse than for a college student. The worst was yet to come, the superintendents and their faculties made the system even harsher (147).
The faculty made it hard for the cadets because they wanted to turn then into finished soldiers. Thayer who was one of the faculty forbade the soldiers to drink, chew tobacco, play chess or cards, gamble, read novels, watch romances or plays, bathe in the river and other things. And if one of them broke the rules they would have extra tours of duty. One Cadet by the name of George Cushing walked guard all one September Sunday for defacing public
property he had his feet on the table in his room. Other cadets experienced the same incidents for having cards or kicking a horse. Occasionally the cadets would fight back and Thayer would have to give out warnings against shuffling, groaning or creating a disturbance through services (150). I think this is too weird, why would they do this to the poor cadets, treat them like rats. I don t know, but maybe the end result will show.
The cadets furniture consisted of an iron bedstead, a table, a straight-backed chair, a mirror, a lamp, a mattress and blanket. During the winter, the rooms got so cold that they couldn t study in them, and in the summer the rooms got extremely hot that others got headaches (153).
I wanted to know what was happening now at West Point. So I went on the Internet and found an official site about the school. The history of the academy goes all the way back to the Revolutionary War (USMA www).
The Academy is located approximately 50 miles north of New York City on the Hudson River. It was found about two centuries ago, the Military Academy has accomplished its mission by developing cadets in four critical areas: intellectual, physical, military, and moral-ethical – a four-year process called the “West Point Experience.” (USMA www).
A challenging Academic Program that consists of a sample of 31 courses provides a balanced education in the arts and sciences. This course establishes the foundation for elective courses that give cadets greater depth in the field of study or an optional major. All cadets receive a Bachelor of Science degree, which is designed specifically to meet the intellectual requirements of a commissioned officer in today’s Army. Classes are small,
usually less than 18, and the faculty to student ratio is 1:8 (USMA www). That is a lot of courses a cadet must take. That reminds me of private school with few students in each class.
The Physical Program at West Point includes both physical education classes and competitive athletics. Every cadet participates in a club or a level sport each semester. This careful physical program gives mental and physical fitness that is required for service as an officer in the Army.
Cadets learn basic military skills, including leadership, through a demanding Military Program, which begins on their first day at West Point. Most military training takes place during the summer, with new cadets going through Cadet Basic Training the first year, followed by Cadet Field Training at a nearby Camp Buckner the second year. Cadets spend their third and fourth summers serving in active Army units around the world; attending advanced training courses such as flying, air assault or northern warfare; or training the first and second year cadets as members of leadership. Military training is combined with military science instruction to provide a stable military foundation for officer ships (www).
The admission is open to all young men and women, and is extremely competitive. Candidates must receive a suggestion from a member of Congress or from the Department of the Army. They are then evaluated on their academic, physical and leadership potential. Those candidates who are fully qualified receive appointments to the Academy (USMA www). I think more men get accepted.
The life of a cadet is demanding, but free time does permit fun activities such as golf, skiing, sailing, and ice-skating, Clubs include a cadet radio station, rock climbing, and Big Brother-Big Sister. A wide variety of religious activities are available to cadets from all
religious backgrounds (USMA www). I wonder what the cadet radio station play? It s a good thing that it offers religious practices.
The cadets are better today than they have ever been because they are compared with other students at America s best schools. Only three institutions in the country had more Rhodes Scholarship recipients than West Point. On College Boards and other tests, cadets score higher in the verbal sections than the students at the best engineering and mathematics schools (Ambrose 328). Maybe I should go there just to get a good education and leave. But I don t see that happening.
From the day of its founding on March 16, 1802, West Point has grown in its size and stature, but it remains committed in producing leaders of character for America’s Army. Today, the Academy graduates more than 900 new officers annually, which represents approximately 25 percent of the new lieutenants required by the Army each year. The student body, or Corps of Cadets, numbers 4,000, of whom approximately 15 percent are women (USMA www).
At graduation Cadets wonder about their next duty. West Point is about moving on up (Rugger 336). A favorite expression at West Point is that “much-of the history we teach was made by people we taught.” Great leaders such as Grant and Lee, Eisenhower and Patton, Westmoreland and Schwarzkopf are among the more than 50,000 graduates of the Military Academy (www).
I don t know what to say. I now can see how it was from the beginning; the cadets didn t have a lot as they do now. West Point has changed dramatically in my opinion. I think if a cadet has enough courage to protect his country I consider him a hero. I believe I learned a lot more than I used to know about the military. I learned that it s really hard to go through
these days at a military academy. They have to work hard, and they have to have passion in what they are doing. One cannot just goof off, they have to follow all rules and be disciplined, and they must be perfect. They must work as a team. While I was starting my research I saw that I was giving up but I pulled through like the cadets. I found it interesting to learn about all of these military matters. I imagined what the cadet s felt when they were hot or cold. I now can understand the meaning of Duty, Honor, Country.
Ambrose, Stephen E. Duty, honor, country: a history of West Point. Baltimore: Batam 888881999
Boritt, Gabor. The Lincoln Enigma. New York: McGraw, 2001.
Card Scott, Orson. Ender s Game. New York. Tom Doherty Associates, 1991.
Rugger, Ed. The Duty first and the Making of American Leaders. New York: Harper, 2001.
USMA. History. U.S Military Academy History. 88888http://www.usma.army.mil/PublicAffairs/history/ (06 Dec. 1999).