Class of 2024 celebrates 500th Night

By Jorge Garcia Pointer View Staff WriterJanuary 18, 2023

Class of 2024 celebrates 500th Night
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Class of 2024 Cadet and Class President Thomas Ward gives a cadet bust to guest speaker, retired Lt. Gen. Nadja West, after her speech at the annual 500th Night Banquet Saturday at the Cadet Mess Hall. (Photo Credit: Kyle Osterhoudt) VIEW ORIGINAL
Class of 2024 celebrates 500th Night
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Members of the Class of 2024 stand prior to the beginning of the annual 500th Night Banquet Saturday at the Cadet Mess Hall. (Photo Credit: Jorge Garcia) VIEW ORIGINAL

The Class of 2024 Cadets finally reached a pivotal milestone during this academic year as they gathered at Washington Hall to celebrate the annual 500th Night Banquet on Saturday, marking their 500 days until they graduate from West Point.

Cadets entered the Mess Hall in their dress uniforms. Meanwhile, some wore silk gowns and trimmed suits as they enjoyed delectable beverages while socializing with West Point leadership and special guests leading up to the banquet feast.

Class of 2024 Cadet Alexander Mobley sought inspiration when he attended the ceremony and was thrilled to share this momentous occasion with his colleagues and close friends.

“The 500th Night Banquet was a great opportunity to interact with my class,” Mobley said. “I consistently feel inspired by these types of events. It made the weekend one to look forward to and remember.”

During the ceremony, the key speaker, retired Lt. Gen. Nadja West, shared some important lessons about leading a team during a crisis and the importance of effective communication and humility.

Any possible threat can drastically change how the U.S. Army operates, and West made that clear to cadets as she used examples such as the pandemic and current worldwide conflicts to underscore the importance of enduring a crisis while instilling confidence in Soldiers.

“During times of crisis, you must be a leader of character, so your people know that they can trust you when you have to make hard, unpopular choices,” West said. “You have to be transparent so those you lead understand what’s happening and why so they don’t resort to assuming the worst.”

West added that a leader has to resonate with their Soldiers and understand the importance of empathy.

“You must have the humility to know that you do not have all the answers,” West explained. “You must rely on a diverse team with a wide range of perspectives that are empowered to tell you the truth and are able to respectfully disagree without retribution.”

The Superintendent, Lt. Gen. Steven Gilland, extended his appreciation to the parents who attended the event and expressed how happy he was to have them celebrate this milestone with their sons and daughters.

“We know you are incredibly proud (of your sons and daughters) for what they accomplished so far as cadets at the U.S. Military Academy,” Gilland said. “It takes a village to develop leaders and our family members and parents are very critical members of that village. The cadets couldn’t have done it without your support and encouragement so thank you for all that you do.”

Class President Thomas Ward also shared some words of encouragement with his fellow cadets to remind them of the struggles and triumphs the Class of 2024 has battled through leading up to this point.

“Things have made our journey difficult ... they’ve broken and shaped us into people who will soon be fit to lead our country through the most strenuous circumstances, and they will ultimately make us into the leaders the American people are expecting us to become,” Ward said.

Ward added that as the Class of 2024 gets one step closer to graduation, they will ready themselves for all the challenges serving in the U.S. Army and the Nation will bring.

“As you complete the last 500 days as a cadet, use these uncertain times to reflect on how you can fine-tune or totally revamp what you must be, know and do as a leader during times of crisis,” West said. “I would ask that you also spend time to cultivate or continue that migration of all that you’ve learned from being not just matters of the head, but being matters of the heart, because in the end that’s where leadership starts and that’s what leadership is all about.”