My elder son went to the United States Military Academy, commonly known as West Point. Parents were invited for grand occasions and ceremonies. But one November during his second year at West Point, I had a business trip to Manhattan and decided to visit him during a regular week; there was no pomp and circumstance happening during this cold rainy mid November mid week.
A Regular Week at West Point
I arrived and checked into the Thayer, a historic hotel located on the grounds of West Point. It was getting dark and my son had to study. I wanted to take a long walk and asked the clerk at the Thayer this ridiculous question, “Is it safe to walk after dark?” The clerk stared at me and said, “Lady. You’re at West Point.” I realized the absurdity and slunk away out into what I thought would be a lonely, contemplative walk.
It was dark. It was beginning to rain. But I quickly realized I was not alone. There were cadets out running. Herds of runners, single runners, runners engaged in competitions friendly and fierce, all whizzed past me on the winding walks.
They all kept up a demanding pace.
They all wore the same thing. They flew by, dividing around me like minnows around a pole. I walked for a good hour, past Grant Hall, past the Eisenhower Monument, past the mess hall, around Trophy Point. I saw the meandering Hudson River in a dark ribbon far below. The runners never stopped. I woke up the next morning early. It was now raining in sheets, cold and leaden. The clock in the rental car said 5AM. As I drove toward the guardhouse, there were more herds of runners. Many of them seemed to be finishing up their workouts. They were undeterred by the rain or the cold.
As I wound around the narrow rain-slicked road that led out of West Point, I thought about the cadets. I thought about the drive that made them seek out the physical challenges, the mental challenges of the institution, of the Army life to which they had all dedicated themselves. Surely they all had different reasons. But grounded in the solidity of the brick and mortar, of monuments to the past, they understood that the ever changing present called on them to improve steadily, day by day, mile by mile; stasis was not an option.
Kate Fuglei is an actress and singer who divides her time between Studio City and Brooklyn. She has appeared in over forty episodes of television, including most recently in one of the first episodes of STAR TREK/PICARD. She is a published author with two novels based on the lives of the physicist Enrico Fermi and the educator Maria Montessori. The greatest blessing in her life is her marriage to writer Ken LaZebnik and her two sons, Jack LaZebnik and Ben LaZebnik. They inspire her every single day.
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