National Geographic : 1952 May
626 National Geographic Photographer B. Anthony Stewart No More Bracing or Chin-wrinkling-Plebes Relax with "Recognition" Immediately after June Week's final parade, bareheaded upperclassmen shake hands with plebes and con gratulate them on surviving their toughest year at West Point. This recognition brings new privileges and adds responsibilities, but now the men can live more like humans, not automatons. in recognition of what it takes to survive plebe life. No more bracing, no wrinkling of chins, no marching to classes. From now on they will inherit the privileges and responsibilities of upperclassmen. Next morning comes the hour seniors have struggled toward, lived and trained for during four long years. At the simple but impressive graduation ceremony the Corps and nu merous guests fill the huge Field House. The graduating class sits together in a white-capped body before a flag-draped rostrum loaded with official dignitaries (page 622). When the speaking ends, the first classmen, in order of academic standing, file over the platform past the Superintendent, who per sonally hands out each diploma. The scroll represents a bachelor of science degree and a commission as second lieutenant in the Regu lar Army or Air Force. Last man to receive his diploma-the "goat" of the class-gets a tremendous ovation. Then the exchange of cheers between graduates and the rest of the Corps shakes the building. The first captain calls "Class dismissed," and the Nation's newest second lieutenants throw their obsolete white caps toward the high ceiling in a final traditional gesture. Whether their assignments take these of ficers to Georgia or Germany, California or Korea, they will go prepared because West Point made them so. They have learned, not left behind, a motto that everywhere and al ways calls for "Duty, Honor, Country." So they go; but others like them move up to take their places in the "long gray line" as West Point marches on. For other accounts of life at the service academies, see, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE: "Mid shipmen's Cruise," by Midshipmen William J. Aston and Alexander G. B. Grosvenor, USN, June, 1948; "Annapolis, Cradle of the Navy," by Lt. Arthur A. Ageton. June, 1936; and "West Point and the Gray Clad Corps," by Lt. Col. Herman Beukema, June, 1936.