Davis Barracks Time Capsule cemented in wall for 100 years

Story and photo by Michelle Eberhart Assistant Editor

May 4th, 2017 | News, News and Features
A dedication ceremony took place Monday with several people, including Superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr., as a time capsule was placed into bricks of the new Davis Barracks. The barracks will officially open in August.

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 will be a variety of “old-fashioned” construction contracts, maps and aerial photographs. In addition, there will be 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. It will also include a written history including the winter edition of West Point magazine, featuring Army West Point Football’s win over Navy, and a copy of the highly-acclaimed Pointer View newspaper will also be found in the box.

The dedication ceremony Monday for the capsule included Caslen, cadets, staff and faculty, members of the Corps of Engineers, project construction workers and descendants of Gen. Benjamin O. Davis Jr.

“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, N.Y. 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.

Full list of items in time capsule:

• West Point Folder:

— Letter from the 59th Superintendent, Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr.;

— Contents inventory sheet.

• U.S. Corps of Cadets Packet:

— Letters and shoulder insignias of the 36 cadet companies;

— Letter from Cadet First Captain, Hugh McConnell, Kansas;

— Bugle Notes, 2016-2020;

— Class insignias, (for each three upper classes);

— Coins from Superintendent, Dean, Commandant, USMAPS and other offices/entities.

• Gen. B. O. Davis, Jr. (1912-2002):

— Family photos and heirlooms;

— Autobiography Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. An Autobiography (1991);

— USMA biographical booklet.

• Documents:

— West Point magazine, Winter 2017, Association of Graduates;

— West Point Maps (2);

— Aerial and construction photos;

— Pointer View, USMA newspaper, Vol. 72, No. 16, April 27, 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 Point Cemetery map/brochure;

— USMA Strategic Plan, 2017-2021.

• USACE District Office:

— Construction contract;

— Chief of Construction Blackberry and Commander’s Coin;

— Deputy Area Captain Rank and USACE;

— Walsh Construction Firm model truck.