WEST POINT, N.Y. (May 11, 2011) -- As the Class of 2011 looks forward to becoming commissioned officers next week, a few cadets took the time to become introspective and take part in the 5th annual General of the Armies John J. Pershing Reflective Essay competition and write about their four-year experience at West Point.

Thirty-two awards were presented at the May 6 luncheon at the West Point Club-one gold medallion, three silver medallions and 28 bronze medallions.

Retired Lt. Gen. John H. Cushman, first captain of the Class of 1944, started the writer's award with Anne Cabaniss, widow of Cushman's friend and classmate Jelks H. Cabaniss Jr. Cushman and Cabaniss started the Pershing Writing Awards through the Association of Graduates in 2007.

"I always thought it was a good idea to have first class cadet's write about their experiences here," Cushman said. "Mrs. Cabaniss and I proposed the Pershing Writing Awards believing that writing an essay would provide useful introspection by the cadets as they reflected on their time at West Point--a kind of meditation in print."

Writing the essay is part of the MX400 Officership Capstone curriculum and every cadet from the Class of 2011 has a chance at a gold, silver or bronze medallion.
The essays were judged by narrowing the top essays from a company and regiment-level, with winners from each earning a bronze or silver medallion.

The four regimental winners competed for the brigade-level gold Pershing Medallion.
Class of 2011 Cadet Arturo Rodriguez, Co. D-3 and recipient of the silver medallion, remembered what greatly impressed him during the past four years.

"I was in Africa--in a remote part of Senegal," Rodriguez said. "We were in a training exercise with French Marines. There were no fences and we wanted to pick some fruit and asked some children to help us.

"At first the children said no because it would be stealing. That really impressed me. The honor code always applies," he added.

The recipient of the gold Pershing Medallion was Class of 2011 Cadet Brian McBee, Co. G-1, who concluded his essay with:

"West Point means many different things to many people. Reflecting on my time spent at the academy, I am left with the conclusion that life is full of adversity, but by remaining focused and true to yourself, any challenge can be overcome. I have learned that you must remain true to your higher standard and values, even if they are not popular; you must continually strive to develop yourself and your subordinates; you must never give up on your dreams. After all, whether you win or lose, the greatest glory in life is to find yourself standing at the end of a great challenge knowing that you have given your all in pursuit of your dreams. Only then might you understand the immense satisfaction which comes only after facing great hardship head-on, knowing that you are a warrior at heart and that you never quit."