West Point grads observe 'Founder's Day'
April 12, 2009
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE Q-West, Iraq - The 'Long Gray Line' from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., stretched to this logistics base in northern Iraq during an observance of 'Founder's Day' here March 15.
Maj. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr., commander, Task Force Lightning, Multi-National Division - North, said it was important to take a moment to remember the legacy, traditions and brotherhood of West Point.
Caslen, Class of '75, "Courage and Drive," and Commandant of Cadets from 2006 to 2008, was the guest speaker and the oldest graduate attending the event.
"It is truly an honor to take some time to celebrate the proud heritage we all share, the heritage of not only being Soldiers in the best Army in the world, but also the heritage of the shared experience that is West Point, that which marks us members of the 'Long Gray Line,' defenders of freedom and democracy, the protectors of the innocent and weak," said Caslen to a group of West Point alumni and guests. "You are leaders, Soldiers, patriots, Americans."
West Point, the oldest of America's five service academies, was founded on March 16, 1802, after President Thomas Jefferson signed the document that established the academy. The history of the Founder's Day observance is more obscure, though often attributed to the period after the Civil War when West Point graduates from both sides met several times to re-kindle old friendships and to help rebuild and restore the nation.
The youngest West Point alumus at the event, 1st Lt. John McGinn, civil affairs officer, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, and Class of '07, "Always Remember, Never Surrender," said the observance was special for him.
"It's kind of cool that everybody, even in Iraq, (that we) can get together and recognize Founder's Day," said McGinn, from Commack, N.Y.
First Lt. Sarah Noyes, brigade adjutant, 16th Sustainment Brigade, who organized the event, said she felt that it is important to get together with other "old grads" and honor the traditions of West Point and catch up.
"It's even more meaningful in the deployed theater, seeing classmates and hearing about their deployments," said Noyes, Class of '06, "Never Falter, Never Quit." "For some of us, being deployed means missing formal reunions, so any chance to get together and reminisce is always memorable."
Caslen, the third highest-ranking general in the Iraqi theater of operations, told the academy graduates not to doubt themselves.
"You have what it takes, and do not for a moment doubt that you lack one bit of training or preparation necessary for success, for you are the steely-eyed, knuckle-dragging, flat-bellied, Oakley-wearing, door-busting, and when appropriate, compassionate and kind United States Soldier," Caslen said.
By Sgt. Keith M. Anderson, 16th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs
For queries, contact 3d Sustainment Command Public Affairs at: ESCPAO@iraq.centcom.mil.
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