Sunday, March 16, 2014

United States Military Academy


West Point, New York (JFK+50) 212 years ago today, March 16, 1802, the United States Military Academy was founded by Congress.

The location of the institution, on the banks of the Hudson River fifty miles north of New York City, was originally a fort built in 1780 to protect the Hudson River valley from British attack.

West Point by W.J. Bennett (1831)

In 1817, the military academy was reorganized by Superintendent Sylvanus Thayer who became known as the "Father of West Point".

On June 6, 1962, President John F. Kennedy addressed the graduating class of the academy.

The President said:

"I wish all of you....success (but) I am not unmindful of the fact that two graduates of this academy have reached the White House and neither of them was a member of my party.

Until I am more certain that this trend will be broken, I wish that all of you may be generals and not commander in chief."

"We go forth confident of support and success because we know that we are working and  fighting for each other and for all those men and women all over the globe who are determined to be free."


My Lai, Vietnam (JFK+50) Forty six years ago today, May 16, 1968, soldiers of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, US 20th Infantry Regiment, 11th Brigade killed hundreds of civilians here in the village of My Lai.

The attack, ordered by American military officers, was part of a "search and destroy" mission in response to activities of Viet Cong communists resulting in the deaths of five American soldiers caused by hidden mines.

Finding only unarmed villagers, mostly old men, women and children, the soldiers committed rape, torture and execution.  

These events were kept from the American people by the army for more than a year.

Seymour Hersh interviewed the leader of Charlie Company, Lt. William L. Calley and broke the story.

In March 1970, an army board of inquiry charged 14 officers of crimes for their actions at My Lai.

In 2009, Lt. Calley made a public apology for his role in the My Lai Massacre before a Kiwanis Club meeting in Columbus, Georgia.

Lt. Calley said:

"There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel remorse for....My Lai....

for (those) who were killed, for their families, for the American soldiers involved and their families.

I am very sorry."

Photo by Ronald L. Haeberle
 March 16, 1968