By Michelle EberhartMay 1, 2017
In 100 years from now, U.S. Military Academy personnel will crack open the 2013-2017 brick on the front of Davis Barracks to find a time capsule. Inside, a variety of "old-fashioned" construction contracts, maps and aerial photographs. In addition, letters from Superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr. and First Captain Hugh McConnell, insignia and letters from each of the 36 cadet companies, and coins from each member of the West Point Command team. Written history including the winter edition of West Point magazine, featuring Army West Point football's win over Navy, and a copy of The Pointer View newspaper will also be found in the box.
The dedication ceremony Monday included Caslen, cadets, staff and faculty, members of the Corps of Engineers, project construction workers, and even descendants of Benjamin O. Davis.
"This has been a labor of love for a lot of different people, and a very important partnership, this is a big step for West Point and how the cadets will be living in the future," Col. David A. Caldwell, NY District Commander for the Corps of Engineers, said during the ceremony. "It's not just a building on campus, this is a monument, it's one of those forever buildings and the date stone as we put that in to commemorate the dates that it was built, it will be standing long past any of us or our children or our children's children."
Caslen emphasized the importance of Davis' legacy and what the building means to the West Point community.
"One of the things that I'm proud about this building is the lineage and heritage of the name of the man that this building is named after, Benjamin O. Davis. It's an incredible legacy, it's an incredible story," he said. "He's a West Point graduate from the Class of 1936, he was the fourth African American to graduate from West Point."
Due to the institutional racism at the time, Davis was silenced by the Corps of cadets and lived on his own for his four years at the Academy. In his memoir, Davis wrote that that experience allowed him to learn perseverance and resilience, as he eventually became the first African American general officer in the United States Air Force.
"It's a great inspiration that every time one of our cadets has the opportunity to walk into this barracks, to be reminded of the legacy of Benjamin O. Davis. You can't help but be inspired by the values and the character for what he stands for, and that's probably one of the most important things that I'm proud of," Caslen added.
Doug Melville, Davis' great nephew was also in attendance for the event and thanked the Academy for the dedication to his uncle.
"On behalf of the whole family, this is the highest honor at West Point," he said. "I always try to think of what Ben would say if he were able to see this, if he were alive, but when he walked through these doors 85 years ago… that this building, this barracks and really this monument, forever, would be here, I think he would be in complete awe."
The official ribbon cutting for the Davis Barracks be in August.
Items in the time capsule include:
Letter from the 59th Superintendent, LTG Robert L. Caslen Jr.
U.S. Corps of Cadets Packet:
Letters and Shoulder Insignias of the 36 Cadet Companies
Letter from CDT First Captain, Hugh McConnell, Kansas
Bugle Notes, 2016-2020
Class Insignias, (for each 3 upper classes)
Coins from Superintendent, Dean, Commandant, USMAPS & other Offices/Entities
GEN B. O. Davis, Jr. Family:
Photos, & Heirlooms,
Autobiography Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. An Autobiography (1991)
USMA Biographical Booklet
West Point Magazine, Winter 2017, Association of Graduates
West Point Maps (2)
Aerial and Construction Photos
Pointer View, USMA newspaper, Vol. 72, No. 16, 27 April 2017
NCAA Corps Sports Results, Academic Year 2016-17
Admissions Class Profiles, 2017 through 2020
"Buff Card" of AY 2016-17 class schedules (w/ Green Addendum)
West Cemetery Map/Brochure
USMA Strategic Plan, 2017-2021