By Kathy Eastwood (USMA at West Point Public Affairs)January 8, 2016
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Jan. 12, 2015) - Twenty-six members of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point Class of 2015 finally threw their hats in the air as they graduated Dec. 18 at Eisenhower Hall.
"I feel good about it," Class of 2015 Emily Speziale said. "It's as much a rare situation and we've been here longer. I can't believe we made it. During plebe year, it looks like a mountain, but now we are here." The Toms River, New Jersey native is heading to Fort Campbell, Kentucky into the branch of Field Artillery.
Members of the Class of 1965, retired Maj. Gen. Clair Gill, and retired Lt. Col. Bob Frank and Russ Campbell were there to support their affiliate Class of 2015 from the Class of 1965 and to present the second lieutenant bars. Four distinguished graduates were also in attendance.
In his speech, U.S. Military Academy at West Point Superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr. spoke about the class of a hundred years ago, the class the stars fell on, the Class of 1915 was a class of only 164 students, but 59 of those students, those cadets earned stars, from brigadier general to five-star generals. This year, three women were the first to graduate from Ranger School. That is the legacy of West Point.
"The fact that you are here in December probably had to do with some sort of adversity that you had to survive," Caslen said. "Whatever adversity it was that has now brought you to this particular place; you can probably say you learned to have the resilience to get through. Victory goes to those who have the most resolve to win."
Dean of the Academic Board, Brig. Gen. Timothy Trainor, spoke to the class of their perseverance and struggle to get where they are today since cadets traditionally graduate in May. "I've never seen a crowd like this," Trainor said. "You guys must be doing something right. I am very proud of the 26 who have successfully accomplished what you have accomplished. I know you were not sure this day would come, but it is here; take it, you have earned it. The Army needs you, we need you."
As usual, the Dean called on particular cadets by first name to let everyone know how they continued on despite adversity. "Ashley, the faith in yourself helped you get where you are by knowing the faith in your family was important," he said.
During the graduation in May, the former Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey was the guest speaker and broke a tradition. When a cadet accepts his first salute the cadet presents him with a dollar as it is a show of trust. Dempsey changed it up a bit by presenting cadets with a signed dollar bill along with their diploma.
That tradition, along with the diploma were given to the December graduating cadets.