West Point is one of the most prestigious military schools in the world. It is the school where the brightest and most physically fit military aspirants start their careers. West point has a long and rich history that dates back more than a century ago. Today, West Point produces the finest and brightest officers the world has seen. Through extensive training in military equipment and tactics, the students are trained to be decisive and responsive in any situation they are in.
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History of West Point
West Points history dates back to the Revolutionary War, when the opposing sides discovered the strategic importance of the plateau located on the west side of the Hudson River. Gen. George Washington once considered West Point to be the most important strategic location in all of America. Gen. Washington personally assigned Thaddeus Kosciuszko, a hero of Saratoga, to design the fort to be built in West Point in 1778. Gen. Washington made West Point his headquarters in 1779. Soldiers built and established redoubts, forts, batteries and stretched a one hundred fifty ton chain across the Hudson River to manipulate river traffic. The fort built in West Point was never occupied or captured by the British forces. West Point is the oldest active and occupied military fort in the United States of America.
A multitude of soldiers and government legislators that included George Washington, Know, John Adams and Hamilton wanted to reduce the reliance of the Army on foreign artillerists and engineers. West Point was established to train and educate soldiers on the modern arts and sciences of warfare. 1802 was a turning point for the United States Military because then President Thomas Jefferson signed legislation that established the United States Military Academy. President Thomas Jefferson established the United States Military Academy after ensuring that the school would uphold democracy.
The father of the military academy, Col. Sylvanus Thayer, served as the Military Academy’s superintendent during 1817-1833. During Col. Thayers stay, he upgraded the academic standards and instilled discipline and honor into the hearts of every cadet that entered the Academy. Thayer was also aware of the growing need for engineers for the country. He took a bold step into making civil engineering the foundation of the schools curriculum. During the 1st half of the century, United States Military Academy graduates contributed immensely to the construction of several of the nations roads, bridges, harbors, and railway lines.
After extensive experience and recognition in the Indian and Mexican wars, graduates from West Point ranked high on both sides of the Civil War. Famous graduates such as generals Lee, Grant, Jackson and Sherman set the bar high for military excellence and leadership for both the North and South.
During the post Civil War period, the Academy broadened its curriculum from its civil engineering base. The subsequent development of other technical schools led to further broadening of the schools curriculum. The creation of the Army post graduate staff and command schools was the first step to continuing education in the Army.
Academy graduates gained renown and recognition during World War I because of their exemplary performance in the battlefield. After the 1st World War, then Superintendent Douglas MacArthur further diversified the curriculum of the Military Academy. Superintendent MacArthur recognized the growing importance of physical fitness in modern warfare. He pushed for drastic changes in the athletic and physical fitness programs of the Academy. He started the mantra every cadet an athlete to push for the physical fitness of each cadet. During his time, the Honor System was formalized when the formation of the Cadet Honor Committee became official.
The spotlight was shed on the Academy yet again when the Second World War broke out. Military Academy standouts included MacArthur, Eisenhower, Arnold, Bradley, Stilwell, Wainwright and Patton. Military Academy graduates showed their leadership and took on the challenge of leading the Army to victory against the Axis.
The post war period was another turning point for the Academy. Another sweeping change of the curriculum took place because of the advances in science and technology that took place. Other factors that led to the change of the Academy’s curriculum was the growing need to understand different cultures and the increasing level of general education in the Army.
During 1964, then President Johnson signed the legislation that would increase the number of the Corps from 2,529 to 4,417. To accommodate the larger number of Corps in the Academy, several buildings and facilities were built. 1976 was a landmark year for the Academy because it was the year when women were allowed to enroll. There were 62 women who graduated from the Academy in 1980 that included Rhodes Scholar, Andrea Hollen. In recent years, West Point Cadets are now allowed to major in a variety of degrees and subjects from the humanities and the sciences.
About the Academy
West Point holds true to its tradition of excellence and service by providing its cadets top notch education in the military sciences and tactics. They are also taught to be well rounded individuals that are open-minded and knowledgeable in various fields.
West Point serves and protects the lives of Americans all over the world. Besides being a military post, West Point holds several programs that benefit the community. The programs reach out to the different sectors of society. There are also scholarships awarded to deserving cadets and enrollees.
West Point Facts & Figures
- There are at least 4,400 Corps of Cadets every year.
- 1,000 Cadets join the Long Gray Line as they graduate.
- Forbes.com proclaimed West Point as the Best University or Public College in America.
- The Academic Program is comprised of twenty six core courses and there are more than forty majors for the cadets to explore.
- The Physical Program of the Academy includes athletic competition and physical education courses.
- The Military Program begins on the first day. New Cadets undergo Cadet Basic Training or Beast Barracks their first year.
- West Point offers an excellent extracurricular program for cadets.
- West Point will help foster spiritual, ethical, and social development among its cadets.
Video – A Day In The Life of a West Point Cadet