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Page 9 text:
the pow but no whit frosty in sympathy with the Corps, its joys, its grouches and its ideals; a little wiser than in 70, but not much; a lot more charitable; with an abiding faith in the future of this Land of Promise, and of Humanity; and with a profound conviction of the pre-eminence among educational institutions of the Military School that has certified your worth, he salutes the Class of Nineteen-Eleven.
Most likely the men of every graduating class of young men since colleges and universities were founded have been told that they lived in an evil age in which momentous changes were impending; and that their time was one of transition. This is always more or less true. All ages have their share of evil, and all are more or less transitional. As a matter of fact, however, in our world the importance of all issues is a question of degree; and all matters from time and space to fresh eggs are relative. As we look back over the historic field we note crises of superlative moment by which social conditions are profoundly affected, and we see that the conditions surrounding these epochs are always exceptionally intensive. It does not take a very superior intelligence to discern in our day and in our immediate surroundings evidences of such concentrated social energy. It is a commonplace of knowledge that since the beginning of the Nineteenth Century the Western World has rapidly revolutionized the material conditions of life; and that political and social relations and conceptions have undergone corresponding changes with no less swiftness.
There is more difference in many fundamentals of thought, of social relations, and of political ideals between the world of today and that of George Washington than between his period and that of William the Conqueror yes,or that of Greece and Rome. There is in some respects as much difference between your world and that of your grandfathers as between their time and the age of Louis XIV; in fact, a good deal more. There is no precedent in history for the compression into periods of less than thousands of years of such general and far-reaching changes in the life and material powers of mankind as have taken place since
Page 8 text:
here below shall this band of brothers be united; not once more may they look together into each other's eyes and hear the familiar shouts and grinds; not again shall a common impulse move them. Hut what of that? A wave of sadness; a smothered sob; a tear repressed; a tight grip of hands—and ho! for Life and the World.
A year ago your Prologue stood with sixteen of his classmates in front of his own quarters to be photographed facing the spot where forty years before fifty-eight of us had stood with bared heads saluting the Corps the “Never Again farewell that a century of classes before yours have rendered their comrades of the Gray; while parents and sweethearts applauded and welcomed us to that work! to which we had been so long strangers. That anniversary night at the dinner the spirit of class brotherhood swept over us like a tide, and filled our hearts with the same glow of comradeship that hallowed our parting at graduation; and the fires of class affection that had smouldered these many years under the varying eventualities of life, flamed up with all the intensity of Corps life, and lit in each one a voice of reminiscent eloquence that thrilled and enchanted all. It was not alone the spirit of class, but the spirit of the Corps that with subconscious activity had been vital in us and. undying through life's vicissitudes, had asserted its power in the hour of our reunion.
For one hundred and nine years our great Academy has each year opened her portals to a departing band of her elect, survivors of her stem probation; bearing her seal ujx n their foreheads; accountable to her for fidelity to her ideals; beholden to her for noble gifts of power, of opportunity. of development, of tradition; entrusted with her mission to carry the Spirit of West Point into the affairs of the Nation. For thirty-six successive years your Prologue has seen these her generations of foster children come and go; has contributed something of endeavor towards their training; has wished them God speed in their careers; and has seen with pride and sympathy the record of their successes and of their vindication of her trust. With what bitterness of distress he has heard of the few who have betrayed her, you who are faithful will know with a like experience.
Now, in this his thirty-seventh year in Academic harness; a bit frosty in
Page 10 text:
the French Revolution; and it is to be borne in mind that the rate of change has shown no signs of decreasing. A single lifetime has been sufficient to span marvelous transformations in many fields of thought, of industry, of politics, of religion.
It is this rushing, intensive, evolving, highly subjective world of mechanical activity, of skepticism, of scrutiny and investigation; with its tremendous problems clamoring for solution; its portent of still greater changes; its threat of social cataclysm; its insistent demand of every man for decision and action, that confronts you men of Nineteen-Eleven and your contemporaries. Always in the hand of Youth lies the shaping of the Future; but it is becoming more and more impossible for any man, young or old, to remain in our social system and evade an active personal participation in the solution of its issues. No matter what his vocation may be, he cannot retain his self-respect, and that of his fellows, and refuse his part in the common lot. And this applies to the soldier no less than to the civilian. Time was when the soldier was permitted neither heart nor head, but was wholly an autonomous caricature of a man a blind, marching, trigger-pulling and saluting machine operated by word of command and devoid of everything but mechanical impulse. This creature of wood was fitted only for the despotic purposes of tyrants, and has no place in a modern republic nor in the modern world at all. Not only does the military profession today require intelligence of a high order, initiative, judgment and discretion, of every commissioned officer, but of the enlisted man as well, and in our land the officer has not ceased to be a citizen in becoming a soldier; and burning questions of the day arc as intimately related to his responsibilities of command and his personal welfare as to the duties and interests of the civilian. Serving in such a complex civilization as ours, never can he tell what unusual duties he may be called upon to perform, nor what responsibilities he may be required to assume.
Already the officers of our active Army have organized and administered civil governments, systems of public education, codes of law and civil courts, municipalities, customs services, steamship lines, railroads.
They have built public roads ami bridges; constructed systems of sanitary engineering and telegraph lines;
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