Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Visit to West Point

Alternatively Titled:  'Gib, why does everyone keep calling me ma'am?'

This semester I am taking a class called Chaplaincy in a Multi-Religious Context.  One of our assignments is to interview a leader of a faith that is not our own or a religious leader serving in a multi-religious context (for example, a military chaplain).  The assignment is due the Monday after we get back from spring break and because I knew was going to be in Connecticut all week, I e-mailed Gib to see if it was possible for me to meet with a chaplain at West Point.

(To be completely honest, I also wanted to meet with someone from West Point because military chaplaincy has always nagged at me and sometimes I really do not know where I am being called to serve - I thought a conversation with an actual Army Chaplain might shed some light on that.)

Within twenty minutes of my conversation with Gib about who I was looking to talk to, not only had he lined up a meeting for me, but he had lined up a meeting for me with the only female chaplain at West Point.  Brilliant, right? 

My meeting was at 2:00 on Wednesday and Gib told me to meet him at the front gate by 1:40 so I had plenty of time to park.  Google maps told me it would take me an hour and a half from my parent's house, so I left at 11, figuring I would grab some lunch on the way and have plenty of time to spare.

Or so I thought.

An hour into the trip, I had convinced myself I was lost.  The mileage on the directions wasn't matching up to the miles that I was driving and all of a sudden this big bridge popped up and the directions didn't say that I was supposed to go over a big bridge.  So I looked to the end of the directions and - for some reason - the directions didn't even say I was going to West Point, it "ended" at a completely different town!!

At this point, I was convinced that my sister's cat had messed up the directions before I e-mailed them to my iPod (she's a really sneaky cat) and I called Bruce (because when you are lost in New York state it is helpful to call someone in Georgia).  Bruce told me to call Gib (wish I had thought of that) but Gib was in a briefing and couldn't pick up his phone.  So I turned around, started to drive back towards the interstate, called Bruce and had him dig through my e-mail to find the original directions.  As he was doing this, I saw a library, so I pulled in so I could park and figure everything out.  Ten minutes later, after Bruce still couldn't find where I was (in fairness to him, I wasn't being very descriptive), I decided that since I was at a library, perhaps I should go inside and ask for directions.  BRILLIANT.  So I did that and the smiling librarian told me I was almost to West Point, I just needed to go over the bridge.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhh.  I wish the directions had said, "look for body of water, drive over big bridge" because that would have eliminated a lot of confusion on my end.

So anyway, I get to West Point and WOWWWWWW it is big and there are important-looking people everywhere.  I was about 20 minutes early, so I decided to grab some coffee and get ready for my meeting.  Gib met me at the gate and escorted me in (in his winter dress uniform, it was very impressive looking) and brought me to the chaplain's office.

The meeting was great, the chaplain I met with was incredible and gave me some great insight into the ministries that she has been apart of.  I have great respect for military chaplains and the work that they are doing.

After the meeting (which lasted much longer than I anticipated, sorry Gib, thanks for waiting for me!!) Gib took me on a tour of the campus.  Has anyone ever been to West Point?  Everything is extremely ... grandiose.  It is beautiful, it is huge and it is full of history.  You've got buildings like this ... 

(See the George Washington statue?)

And houses like this ... 

(The Superintendent's house - in nonmilitary terms, I think he is the dean)

You have this monstrosity of a granite statue ... 

(The largest polished granite shaft in the Western Hemisphere)

And you have a beautiful view of the Hudson River ... 

And what trip to West Point would be complete without watching the cadets beat up on each other in Rugby practice?

We ended the night over a feast at a Mexican restaurant, but I didn't take any pictures of that because - well - we were hungry and focused on food, not photography.

All in all, it was an amazing day.  I was so thankful for the opportunity to meet with the chaplain that I did and to see West Point.  I was extended a hand of hospitality by the cadets that I have not often seen on college and university campuses.  Once I got passed the getting lost (but not really) on the way there and being scared to drive through the gate, I felt at ease and comfortable there.  I am being completely serious when I say that the nation should be proud of its future soldiers.


  1. great pics! so cool that you got to talk to the chaplain there!!

  2. YES!! My greatness has finally been immortalized in blog form! And why on earth did you post pictures of my company's arch-nemesis rugby team?

  3. That sounds like a very good day! I've never been to upstate NY, but it looks beautiful and the pictures are stunning.

    So what is your paper going to say? If you become a military chaplain do you have to join the military or is it a civilian post? I think that being a chaplain would be probably be difficult, but also SO rewarding!

  4. So, are you going to be a military chaplain now?


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