Twenty-four members of Class of 2016 join the Long Gray Line

Story and photos by Kathy Eastwood Staff Writer

January 5th, 2017 | News, News and Features
Class of 1966 Robert Cresci, a member of the Class of 2016 50-year affiliate class, presents a cadet with his second lieutenant bars Dec. 16 at the December graduation. Twenty-four cadets graduated in December.
Twenty-four Class of 2016 Cadets graduated Dec. 16 during the annual December graduation ceremony held at Eisenhower Hall. Some cadets delayed their graduation to overcome injury, academic and military challenges.

Twenty-four Class of 2016 cadets who delayed graduation to overcome injury, academic or military challenges received their diplomas and second lieutenant bars Dec. 16. Although some felt somewhat disappointed that they were unable to graduate with their class, the excitement of the day exceeded that disappointment.

Diplomas were handed out by the U.S. Military Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr. and Class of 1966 Robert Cresci, a 50-year affiliate class member of the Class of 2016, presented the graduates with their second lieutenant bars.

“It’s been long enough,” Class of 2016 Cadet Matthew McCormack said. “It’s a bit of a bummer not graduating at Michie Stadium with 10,000 people watching, but it’s done and it’s worth it.”

McCormack will be headed to Fort Bragg, North Carolina for training in Military Intelligence.

“I have 60 days of leave before that and it will be used to the fullest,” he said.

Dean of the Academic Board Brig. Gen. Cindy Jebb was the keynote speaker and spoke of the perseverance of the cadets to continue with their cadet career for six months longer than their classmates and not giving up.

“To our graduating cadets, you must be very excited now that you have reached today’s benchmark,” Jebb said. “Graduation from West Point at any time of the year is a special occasion and you have much to be proud as today’s ceremony is a fitting end to years of physical, mental and military preparation. I know your journey here was not easy, and you were uncertain at times as to whether you would be sitting here today. Congratulations. By the end of this ceremony, you will not only be Untied States Military Academy graduates, but second lieutenants, granted the authority and responsibility that comes with that commission.”

Jebb advised the new graduates to embrace uncertainty and invoked the words of Nelson Mandela:

“I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk has not ended.”

“So, as we celebrate your graduation today, it is only appropriate, as Mandela puts it, to look back at all that you have accomplished, even in the midst of uncertainty, before looking ahead to the next phase of your journey,” Jebb said. “It is important and appropriate to reflect on where you have been and what you have accomplished because it reflects how your development at West Point has prepared you for your journey ahead. Today’s world is very different from the way things were when you first came to West Point.”

Because of today’s uncertain world, Jebb advised the graduates to “periodically carve out some unhurried moments to take stock and work to make yourself even stronger for the hills ahead. Continue to develop yourself intellectually, militarily and physically, read about the profession of arms, develop interests outside the profession, pursue the intellectual passion sparked during your studies here, think about graduate school and continually push yourself physically so that you are able to excel in the demanding environments in which you will find yourself as well as serve as an example for the Soldiers you lead.”