Today is the day I have been waiting for since the very first moment that we met and the same day that I was convinced would never actually come around. No sweetie, I am not taking about our wedding day, although you know I’ve been dreaming about that too. Today you graduate from West Point, join the Long Gray Line and become a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army dedicating your life to a service that is bigger than yourself. To say that I am proud of you is an understatement. Sure there have been times, rather LOTS of times, when I wished you were with me instead, or even at a college that was in driving distance, but the truth is I’d suffer the long distance all over again just to be standing here today at your commissioning ceremony. You have been through a lot, accomplished more than most, and today you stand before all of us a man devoted to duty, honor, and country.
While I hadn’t met you yet I think it is fair to say that beast was a brutal culture shock and just the beginning of life at West Point. You did countless push ups, consistently got corrected while you were adjusting to military life, ate nasty MREs, slept in the rain or rather had a lack of sleep because it was raining, although you have an uncanning ability to fall asleep anywhere at anytime within seconds, but in the end you became a new cadet. Plebe year was a challenge no doubt but when Yuk (sophomore) year came around you really had it hard trying to manage taking 21 ½ credit hours, starting on the baseball team, your military duties, hardly sleeping at all and still trying to squeeze in time for me. But I am sure glad that you did! We got engaged when you were a Cow (junior) and as a Firstie (senior) you created a Non-Profit that has the ability to save soldier’s lives and of course braved all that came with dating “The West Point Girlfriend,” you’re a trooper! Now I can’t forget some of the hardest things you went through like not being able to have your mommy scratch your back anytime you want, missing out on getting into shenanigans with Tommy, taking Tessa on walks, watching Braves games with your dad, Sunday dinners with the family after church or being close to Liz as she grew up too. All of these sacrifices are a small testament to the man that you have become.
You did not spend your days at West Point wishing them to be over, you took each day as an opportunity to learn something new and better yourself as a person. You had the honor of being chosen as the “guide on” during the run back from Beast, were Freshman All American, Rookie of the Year, a squad leader at Buckner, Captain of the baseball team, won the Patriot League Championship multiple times, beat the record for stolen bases at The Academy, won the Kimsey Scholarship and interned in Congress, created Cadet Union and USX where you are now going to climb Mt. Everest to raise awareness for soldier’s struggling with PTSD and suicide. And to think I did a lot in college, boy did you show me up and I even forgot to mention one of your most memorable moments when you played in the Army Vs. Yankees baseball game and you got a hit off the Yankees. I mean wow, who gets to do that. I think I can speak for all of your friends and family when I say that we are all so proud of your accomplishments and are excited to see what the future has for you.
You might not have known it at the time when you were walking hours for getting in trouble, waking up extra early for formation, working the Q or cleaning your room to a T for Sammie, but all of these things have led you to where you are today. You are a man of character, selfless service, honor, duty, and you have a gift for leading others that I know will take you farther than you can imagine. America is lucky to have you fighting for our freedom and I am lucky to have you fighting for my heart. I love you and I am so proud of you. Congratulations on becoming a commissioned officer as you dedicate your life to serving others, fighting for our country and pursuing your dreams. May the Lord protect you along the way.