Recently I reviewed a lifetime in 24 hours at my West Point class reunion. It was the 35th for Proud and True ’72. Five years ago I recounted my impressions from our 30th in “One Place In Time” (http://www.opinioneditorials.com/guestcontributors/jbowden_20031010.html) So, this was another place in time for one class. I noticed the more explicit link between the personal and eternal in our aging and our enthusiasm for a prayer breakfast. Not everyone shared such on either account. But enough of us aged so and are more evangelical in our Christianity to capture my eye.
Far fewer fellows, wives and kids gathered for the 35th. That’s as predictable as it is to say we’ve aged five years. Yet, the mark of that aging, predictable as it is, is precisely what makes this gathering quite a different place. Five years ago I wrote that we were at the ‘edge of old’. Today, we crossed that Army ‘line of departure’. There is no disputing our late middle age. It’s just a matter of perspective to say if we are old or not. So, why is this more than a flash of the obvious?
Because the obvious progress of our corruptible flesh is on the same long march towards our torch passing and our passage into what is incorruptible and eternal. The personal and the eternal intertwine as one generation hands intact institutions to another.
Some classmates still have children who are cadets, or about to become cadets. Others have children or their spouses serving, or completed service, in the Army and other Armed Services. Even those with no blood kin in any uniform feel a connection to future West Point graduates. We’re counting on future cadets to serve as magnificently as today’s graduates. We’re counting on the Nation to always be able to count on West Pointers to lead, bleed, and win throughout the long, long WW IV against Islamists. Furthermore, there’s a sense of everlasting ownership for all things Army – no matter our distance removed from wearing muddy boots.
From everlasting to everlasting really is only for God. We will walk through a door called Death. In an instant we will be alive somewhere else in a different form, but aware, conscious and remembering all in our identity. The many devout Christians among our class know this well. Our personal walk with Jesus is our testimony of how the eternal has already begun in our lives. Our open sharing of this faith fueling a way of life is as casual as breathing. It’s becoming as common as the laughter that marks our every classmate meeting. And the constant talking, story telling, joking.
One by one we’ll pass the torch of God and Country to family, friends, neighbors, colleagues and church family. It’ll take 40 years to whittle our class down to a handful of very old men. But, the process of the personal marching to the eternal is in full stride. And we’re still strong enough to sing ‘Jodies’ when we have to double time through tough times. Yet, I see the objective. I hear the sound of conflicts we’re marching towards.
Our last reunion event was breakfast in the Cadet Mess Hall beneath the huge mural that depicts decisive battles from the Babylonians to WW I. The battles and leaders that count are the ones that are important to American Civilization. The legacy of Western Civilization’s defining wars, none other’s, serves to inspire West Point cadets. Filling the very center is the banner of the Christian cross with the Crusader King Richard I. Richard, Coeur de Lion, dominates the mural, not Richard the multi-cultural, PC appeaser for Human Secularism.
America has a destiny. America, the Nation, is still an ascending idea. The West Point Class of 1972 serves its role. One by one. When will we hear it said, “Well Done?” I don’t know. But, I reckon my classmates will be talking in ranks and Charlie Frost will ask a question.
James Atticus Bowden is a military ‘futurist’. See his novel, Rosetta 6.2, www.rosettasixpointtwo.com. Contact him through his website, www.americancivilization.net , and blog, Deo Vindice. A retired United States Army Infantry Officer, he is a 1972 graduate of the United States Military Academy. He earned graduate degrees from Harvard University and Columbia University. He a Republican Congressional District Chairman in Virginia.
James Atticus Bowden is a military 'futurist.' His novel, Rosetta 6.2, should be published in mid-2006. A retired United States Army Infantry Officer, he is a 1972 graduate of the United States Military Academy. He earned graduate degrees from Harvard University and Columbia University. He holds three elected Republican Party offices in Virginia.