May 21, 1986 ranks right up there with June 24, 1989 (my wedding day) and March 8, 1991 (the birthday of my only child) in the pantheon of my most memorable dates. It was all the more remarkable to me at the time, since during my entire four years at the Naval Academy, it was never anywhere near certain, or even probable at some points, that I would actually manage to graduate and receive my commission. My persnickety anti-authoritarian tendencies and numerous bad habits made me something less than the ideal midshipman, shall we say.
But, surprise surprise, that amazing day came, and that amazing day went, and I’ve got a photo and a diploma and a commission to prove that it happened, though the experience still seems surreal to me, a quarter-century later.
As it turns out, I’ve spent a good chunk of my post-Naval Academy time serving in a variety of class leadership positions, including Class President for five years, and I’m currently the reunion coordinator for our 25th anniversary homecoming in October. Just goes to show that you can’t judge an old book by its early edition covers.
On the 25th anniversary of our graduation and commissioning into the armed services, I also pause to honor the 26 members of our class who are no longer with us, including one of my plebe year room-mates, one of the 9/11 victims in the Pentagon, and one of the casualties in the war in Iraq that followed. I salute them and the others for their service, and extend all affection and respect to their families. They are missed and remembered.
Having been involved in class communications for so many years, it’s been a delight to see the ways that my brothers and sisters in the class of ’86 have made their marks over the years, in the armed services, in the corporate world, in the nonprofit sector, in their home communities, in government and beyond. We have Admirals and Generals among our ranks, along with CEOs, ministers, doctors, elected officials, pilots, entrepreneurs, lawyers, financial managers, writers and representatives in dozens and dozens of other fields of professional and volunteer endeavor.
While I was pretty surly for most of my four years in Annapolis, I can tell you in no uncertain terms that there’s no other institution that could have had the long-term positive impact on my life that the Naval Academy did, and the personal bonds forged there are still strong and vibrant and important, all these years later.
It’s been an incredible quarter century for us, I think. Here’s looking forward to the next one.