1. “West Point – a school that has produced a man to meet every emergency that has ever confronted the county.”
Col. R. Ernest Dupuy “Men of West Point In World War II,” address before the New York Historical Association, West Point, March 12, 1952
2. “…no other educational institution in the land has contributed as many names as West Point has contributed to the honor roll of the nation’s greatest citizens….And of all the institutions in the country, none is more absolutely American; none, in the proper sense of the word, more absolutely democratic than this. Here we care nothing for the boy’s birthplace, nor his creed, nor his social standing….Here you represent, with almost mathematical exactness, all the country geographically. You are drawn from every walk of life by a method of choice made to insure….that heed shall be paid to nothing save the boy’s aptitude for the profession into which he seeks entrance. Here you come together as representatives of America in a higher and more peculiar sense than can possibly be true of any other institution in the land, save your sister college [the Naval Academy].”
President Theodore Roosevelt, Centennial Day, June 11, 1902
3. “…West Point is maintained for the army, not the army for West Point.”
Brigadier General Jay L. Benedict, June 14, 1938 graduation ceremony
4. “The spirit and tradition of this place are in every way worthy of its noble setting. ‘Duty, Honor, County’ – The ideal embodied in this motto of the Academy has been the quickening impulse through the years of more than a century. To that ideal your predecessors, those ancestors of the spirit, have, with the rarest exceptions, been remarkably steadfast. They have been honorable gentlemen, gentlemen unafraid, who did their full duty with patriotic devotion.”
5. “Today you will become a part of a great fraternity known as the graduates of West Point. The members of that brotherhood are very jealous of its honor, its reputation and of all that the Military Academy represents, and they will watch you closely to see if you are maintaining the high standards which they ascribe to this institution. They will judge the Academy of the present day by the product that it is sending forth into the Army and you must ever remember that it is by your acts that your Alma Mater will be judged.”
6. “This Academy, with its sister school of Annapolis, are the personification of democracy in the equality of opportunity they afford, un-influenced by prior social position or economic standing. They nurture patriotism and devotion to country. They teach that honor, integrity and the faithful performance of duty are to be valued above all personal advantage or advancement. Their success is written in the long and brilliant record of service which their graduates rendered to the nation. It is true that in your curriculum you have been studying a profession – one in which the need of specialization has greatly increased in recenet years. But his is true of many other professions. The development of modern civilization calls for specialization.”
President Franklin D. Roosevelt, June 12, 1935 graduation speech
7. “Today you bring to the army its annual increment of youth, ‘vigor and fortitude.’ He stated, ‘ the things that make West Point the soul of the army.”
Gen. Douglas MacArthur, 14 June 1933 graduation speech
8. “For 176 years the Long Gray Line has met the needs of our changing society while remaining an impregnable bastion of those ideals upon which our country was founded.
We have policed our ranks to march on to the cadence which echoes and reechoes deep in the heart of each of us.
Let us this day reaffirm our beliefs and rededicate ourselves to the principles protecting and preserving our Nation’s cherished freedom.”
General of the Army, Omar N. Bradley, Founders Day Greetings, 1978
9. “The fundamental virtue of the Military Academy lies in its ability to produce citizens willing and able to subordinate personal interest for the common good. We who are now in the field are confident that you who are preparing to join us will sustain this proud and worthy tradition.”
General Alexander M. Hair, Jr., Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Commander-In-Chief United States European Command, Founders Day 1978 message
10. “The rolls of West Point bear the names of those that are synonymous with valor, with leadership and military genius, citizens who have served the Nation in peace, as in war, skillfully and devotedly. The legacy that each received from West Point was offered in the service of their fellow Americans.”
General John W. Vessey, Jr., U.S. Army Commanding, Founders Day 1978
11. “West Point has been faced with severe strains and grave challenges throughout its history. It has emerged from each of these periods stronger in spirit and purpose, and firmer in the affection and regard of the American people. The events of the recent past have led to a similar result. West Point now stands at the threshold of an unparalleled opportunity to make the necessary changes which will set the proper course for the Academy for years to come…”
Major General C. P. Benedict, 21 December 1977 to LTG Andrew J. Goodpaster
12. “Throughout its history, West Point has been a valuable source of leaders for our country. Today, as our armed forces rely increasingly on quality to overcome numerical disadvantages, the importance of people is heightened and effective leadership is more necessary than ever.”
General George S. Brown, USAF, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Founders Day 1978
13. “Throughout our history men of West Point have served their country with honor and distinction. In peace and in war they have played a significant role in the development of our nation. They have made a substantial contribution to the position now enjoyed by the United States. If much has been done in the past, much remains to be done in the future. The great scientific developments of the last few years have compressed time and vastly increased power. They have, in fact, moved us into a new age. Whether or not these changes spell progress and improvement depends to a large extent upon the wisdom and character of those who are now in the schools and colleges of our country. You and your generation are the future. You who are at West Point have a particular responsibility because of the opportunities you enjoy and the dependence that will be placed upon you…”
General Lauris Norsad, USAF, Air Deputy to SUPREME Allied Commander, Europe, Founder’s Day message, March 1954
14. “I believe it is a memorable experience for any American citizen to visit this institution, which for nearly 150 years has contributed so much to the growth and the traditions of our nation. Nowhere else can we find our country’s history more vividly symbolized and reflected than in these few acres, and in the careers of the men who have studied here.”
Frank Pace, June 6, 1950, graduation speech
15. “The record of West Point’s sons in very war since the Revolution has been a glorious one. It has been many years since they were numerically preponderant among the officers of our Army, either in war or peace, but they leaven the whole Army with the inspiration of West Point. They are trained and worthy leaders who multiply themselves a hundred-fold by their dedication to ‘Duty-Honor-Country’.”
Secretary of War, Wilbur M. Brucker, 5 June 1956
16. “…you are part of a long tradition stretching back to the earliest days of this country’s history, and that where you sit sat ones, some of the most celebrated names in our Nation’s history, and also some who are not so well known, but who, on 100 different battlefields in many wars involving every generation of this country’s history, have given very clear evidence of their commitment to their country.”
President John F. Kennedy, graduation speech, June 6, 1962
17. “…To these recurring challenges generations of West Pointers have brought courage, strength, resolve, and dedication as strong and dependable as the rock foundations of these Highlands. I believe these qualities are founded in the solidity of the West Point experience…”
Vice President Spiro T. Agnew, June 3, 1970 graduation speech
18. “…throughout its long history, the men of West Point have not turned away from difficult problems but have sought effective solutions…”
Honorable Melvin R. Laird, The Secretary of Defense, graduation speech, June 9, 1971
19. “…The traditions of West point run throughout our history. The long gray line has extended from here to the ends of the world. And now you accept that inheritance – carrying with you not only the traditions of West Point but the hopes of your countrymen…”
President Gerald Ford, June 4, 1975 graduation speech
20. “During the American Revolution, because of its strategic location, West Point was called ‘The Key to the Continent.’
The Academy, alter founded here in 1802, embodied many of the hopes and reams of our nation’s first soldiers.
The exploits of its graduates and their record of valor is recorded on battlefields around the world.
Today it holds a position of strategic importance in the education of the officer corps of the United States Army.
You are about to graduate from an institution which is respected around the world.”
Honorable John O. Marsh, Jr., Secretary of the Army, May 22, 1985
21. “…You at West Point have established an example for the rest of the nation. Here people measure each other in terms of merit, heart, and will – not creed or sex or color or national origin…”
President George Bush, June 1, 1991, graduation speech
22. “Since 1802, West Point has been the well-spring of bedrock values for over 40,000 graduated cadets. These values have developed in generations of Americans the strength to be a leader. You are privileged, because those values – gained here in the birthplace of our American military ethos – make up your moral, ethical, and professional character.”
Vice President Dan Quayle, commencement address, May 24, 1989
23. “…years of heritage that is now passed on to you by the ‘Long Gray Line.’ Remember the beauty and strength of this place and let it always be an inspiration to you. Remember the solid, gray granite of these walls and how these stones have stood against countless seasons, a symbol of America’s strength around the crucible of her military leadership. An remember this simple charge – love your soldiers with all your heart and soul and mind and body. And selflessly serve your grateful nation.”
General Colin L. Powell, commencement speech, May 31, 1990
24. “…At the end of his term as our country’s first president, George Washington declared that America needed a Military Academy, convinced that it would be vital to America’s future. The contributions of this institution in building our great country can be seen everywhere, and are reflected in the lives of its graduates. Since 1802, in peace and in war, West Point has held a treasured place in America. It has a role in America today, and it will continue to symbolize what is good about us as soldiers and Americans for years to come. America needs West Point; America needs young officer-leaders such as yourselves.”
General Gordon R. Sullivan, 1992 graduating class, 30 May 1992
25. “…To the faculty and staff of this wonderful academy, let me offer my gratitude for your dedication, as this historic institution graduates its 50,000th cadet. It is said here at West point that much of the history you teach was made by the people you taught. That’s true, and very much to your credit. The work you and your predecessors have carried forward since 1802 is truly that of nation building. And today your nation tanks you once again.”
26. “I give it as my fixed opinion, that but for our graduated cadets, the war between the United States and Mexico might, and probably would have lasted some four or five years, with, in its first half, more defeats than victories falling to our share; whereas, in less than two campaigns, we conquered a great country and a peace, without the loss of a single battle or skirmish.”
General Winfield Scott
27. “West Point exists to provide to the cadets of the Corps an intellectual, military, physical and moral/ethical experience of such high quality that it can serve as a bedrock upon which they as future military leaders can build the capability to take their responsibilities in due time for the security and well-being of our country.”
General Andrew J. Goodpaster upon assuming command as Superintendent on 13 June 1977
28. “Duty-Honor-County. Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying points: to build courage when courage seems to fail; to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith; to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.”
General Douglas MacArthur – farewell address, 12 May 1962 to the Corps of Cadets.
29. “From its foundation in 1802, the messages of the Presidents show that each appreciated its importance as a national institution and that each had a deep solicitude for its welfare and proper development. Praise of its work and influence was frequent and of increasing warmth as the structure of the institution grew in strength and symmetry into a definite and vigorous form, until it finally became a concrete part of the fabric of this nation, whose stable an sterling qualities it shared.
In view of such early words of approbation and encouragement, it is natural that we should ask: Have those bright promises of youth been realized in maturity; has the Academy fulfilled its high destiny as the years have advanced, and does it still deserve well of the Republic? It is peculiarly appropriate, therefore, that on this day, when we are gathered to celebrate the completion of the first century of the Academy’s life and labors, we should hear an answer to these questions from the lips of the latest of that long line of distinguished men who have been the Presidents of our Nation, and that we should have his estimate of the results accomplished by the Academy during these later years…”
Colonel Albert L. Mills, USMA Superintendent, 1902, Centennial of the United States Military Academy At West Point, 1802-1902, 2 vols., 1904 GPO reprint. (NY: Greenwood Press, 1969), pp. 18-19.
30. “There was never a moment during that time, by day or by night, that I was not an eyewitness to some performance of duty, some bit of duty well done, by a West pointer, and I never saw a West Pointer failing in his duty. I want to be perfectly frank, gentleman. I heard of two or three instances – you can not get in any body of men absolute uniformity of good conduct; but I am happy to say that I never was an eyewitness to such misconduct. It was my good fortune to see what is the rule – what is the rule with only the rarest exception – the rule of duty done in a way that makes a man proud to be an American, the follow citizen of such Americans.
Your duty here at West Point has been to fit men to do well in war. But it is a noteworthy fact that you also have fitted them to do singularly well in peace. The highest positions in the land have been held, not exceptionally, but again and again by West Pointers. West Pointers have risen to the first rank in all the occupations of civil life…”
Address of Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States. Centennial of the USMA…vol. 1, pp. 22-23.
31. “The centennial of the birth of one of these American institutions furnished excellent opportunity not only for rejoicing, but as well for reflection.
An institution of one hundred years must have in itself elements of strength, to the existence of which is due the fact that it has been permitted to enjoy so long a period of existence; and further, these elements of strength, these characteristics, must be worthy of the consideration of sister institutions, older and younger, as furnishing ideals of educational method and policy which have produced splendid results in one environment, and from which, even under different circumstances, good may be expected.
What, now, is West Point’s message to the educational world? This is a question not to be answered in a five minute speech, and least of all by one whose acquaintance with the institution so slight as my own. And yet it is possible to state in few words the great ideas for which the Military Academy has stood, as these ideas have found expression on the lips of those who best understand its work.
The first of these is concentration of effort. The purpose has been a single one, the supreme spirit has been characterized by unity. No disposition has existed to dissipate the effort of instructor or student by undertaking to do things other than those directly and absolutely involved in the particular purpose for which the school was founded. Its definite purpose has never been lost sight of.
Another of these characteristics has been the degree of thoroughness demanded in the work. Every educator is compelled to admire that policy which limits the membership of the sections arranged for classroom work to 8, 10, or 12 students, and to place in unfavorable contrast with it that other policy, so generally adopted for financial reasons in all our institutions, which assigns to the same section for recitation or lecture 40 or 60, or even 100 students. The spirit of accuracy developed under conditions which have existed here at West Point, the high degree of thoroughness thus made possible, are of inestimable value.
A third characteristic has been the spirit of subordination, of obedience, engendered in the student. It is true, or course, that in preparation for a military career such training is fundamental. But it is to be observed that a large proportion of the alumni of this institution have entered civil life and occupy high positions in the various professions and in the different fields of business activity. Such training has evidently produced satisfactory results in all these cases…
The universities and colleges of America, one of which is the United States Military Academy, have, during the last quarter of a century, taken many forward steps in connection with the country’s progress in other departments of its activity. No greater changes have taken place in methods of commerce, or of transportation, or of communication than those which have come in methods of higher education.
Dr. William R. Harper, President of the University of Chicago. Centennial History, vol. 1, pp.113-115.
32. “To this end it is essential that its officers shall be thoroughly trained in all the art and science of modern and civilized warfare. Washington realized the need of experienced scientific officers, and this institution, conceived and urged by him, has contributed largely to the efficiency, the skill and military science that has done so much to bring success to American arms. Here truth, justice, honor, and moral courage are maintained as the essential principles governing those in the military service, especially those who are to mold, discipline, instruct, command, and lead the military forces of our country. This institution, in which Washington, Scott, and Sherman and their associates were so interested, has grown from the most primitive condition to one of great importance, and stands first among the great universities of the world.”
Lieutenant General Nelson A. Miles, U.S. Army, Centennial History, vol. 1,
“In answering for the Navy on such an occasion…what the Navy of to-day owes to West Point, which is, in a sense, our alma mater, as well as your own. Had it not already existed for many years it is but fair to say that the Naval Academy would have been an institution of much later date than it was. You gave us our first system of organization, our regulations, our methods. In fact, West Point had worked out for us, in the half century preceding the advent of the Naval Academy, the details which are of such vital value to a great school, and which stand to-day, to a great degree, in each unchanged.
And there has been an interlacing of West Point names with the Naval Academy which has reflected honor on both – that of Mahan, which represents a name honored in West Point history as well as in the Navy, and indeed, I may say wherever and by whomsoever the subject of war is studied or read.
Another is that of Lockwood, a West Point graduate, who did so much to start us fair at Annapolis, and to whom the Navy will always feel a deep indebtedness.”
Captain French E. Chadwick, U.S. Navy, Centennial History, vol. 1,
“…I am happy and proud that I am thus permitted by personal observation to become acquainted with this famous seminary of the American corps of officers, and with its excellent methods.
Representing the German Corps of Cadets, I bring to the American sister institution their warmest congratulations upon to-day’s important celebration. We are convinced that this Academy, true to its long-cherished traditions, imbued with the spirit of its great founder, Washington, and true to its fine motto, “Honor, Duty, Country,” will, in the next hundred years, present to the nation and to the Army no less capable men and soldiers than it has done in the hundred yeas just elapsed.”
Colonel Von Witzleben, of the Prussian Army, Commandant Cadet School, Centennial History, vol. 1, pp. 129-130.
On 12 May 1801, President Thomas Jefferson caused the Secretary of War is issue
“The President has decided on the immediate establishment of a military school at West Point -- Major Johnathan Williams is to be at West Point to direct – the commencement of the school.”
March 16, 1802, Congress passed an Act establishing a Corps of Engineers to include ten cadets at West Point constituting a Military Academy.
“And in urging the Army’s need for absorbing annually a strong increment of the West Point Product, no group has been more earnest or sincere than our distinguished body of non-graduate leaders. Among those who have so expressed themselves are Winfield Scott, Andrew Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Leonard Wood.”
Douglas MacArthur, 1903
“Give a West Pointer a job to do, and when he comes back he has the package with him, neatly wrapped up.”
Ernest R. Dupuy, Jr.
“The spirit of the offensive, the doctrine of mobile warfare, has been indelibly written on the pages of American history. From hand-to-hand, the torch would pass down the Long Grey Line to bring victory on battlefields in a global war of such magnitude as was undreamed of by the original exponent of them.”
Dennis Hart Mahan
“It is one of the principal advantages to a country of an institution such as
West Point, for the training of officers, that through the years it acquires a
group of men who, in addition to other benefits of military training, speak the
same language.” (World War I)
James G. Harbord
“West Point – a school that has produced a man to met every national
emergency that has ever confronted the country.”
Edward Douglas White, Chief Justice, US Supreme Court