I had my Congressional Interview today with Congressman Ralph Hall– it was rather brief and I really can’t say how it went one way or another.
On a high note, Mr. Irby came to my interview and personally talked to the nomination board on my behalf. Which agian, goes to show how much support I do have, and quite honestly could never make it to West Point on my own.
On the way over to the meeting I read a passage in a book I am reading called The Challenge of Command by Roger H. Nye that stated:
“On 7 July, 1970, Captain John Alexander Hottell was strapped to a helicopter that was caught in a tropical storm and slammed into a hillside in a remote mountain area of Vietnam. Shortly before, while commanding a compnay of the 1st Cavalry Divison, he had written a sealed letter to his wife, Linda, which began:
I am writing my own obituary… [because] I am quite simply the last authority on my own death.
I loved the Army: it reared me, it nurtured me, and it gave me the most satisfying years of my life. Thanks to it I have lived an entire lifetime in 26 years. It is only fitting that I should die in its service. We all have but one death to spend, and insofar as it can have any meaning it finds it in the service of comrades in arms.
And yet, I deny that I died FOR anything– not my Country, not my Army, not my fellow man, none of these things. I LIVED for these things, and the manner in which I chose to do it involved the very real chance I would die in the execution of my duties. I knew this and accepted it, but my love for West Point and the Army was great enough– and the promise that I would someday be able to serve all the ideals that meant anything to me through it was great enough– for me to accept the possibility as a part of a price which must be paid for all things of great value. If there is nothing worth dying for– in this sense– there is nothing worth living for.
The Army let me live in Japan, Germany, and England, with experiences in all of these places that others only dream about… I have climbed Mount Fuji, visited the ruins of Athens, Ephesus, and Rome… and have earned a master’s degree in a foreign university. I have known what is is like to be married to a fine and wonderful woman and to love her beyond bearing with the sure knowledge that she loves me; I have commanded a company and been a father, priest, income-tax advisor, confessor, and judge for 200 men at a time; I have played college football and rugby, won the British national Diving Championship two years in a row, boxed for Oxford against Cambridge only to knocked out in the first round…. I have been an exchange student at the German Military Academy, and gone to the German Jumpmaster school. I have made thirty parachute jumps from everything from a balloon in England to a jet at Fort Bragg. I have written an article for Army magazine, and I have studied philosophy.
I have experienced all these things because I was in the Army and because I was an Army brat. The Army is my life, it is such a part of what I was that what happened is the logical outcome of the life I lived. I never knew what it was to fail, I never knew what it is to be too old or too tired to do anything. I lived a full life in the Army, and it has exacted the price. It is only just. “
Tommy once told me, kind of in response, to why it was so important for him to help me that it was his “Duty, as a graduate to ensure the Long Gray Line was strengthened by the future generations.” This kind of “pay if forward” approach has stuck with me. There is a sense of Duty that you carry with you for the rest of your life, whether you are in the military or not.