U.S. Army Gen. Richard D. Clarke, U.S.
Special Operations Command commander, spoke to the U.S. Military Academy’s
senior class Oct. 3 as the school hosted a banquet honoring its senior class.
More than 1,000 seniors received their
class rings the day before in a ceremony that marked the beginning of their
final year at West Point. The tradition of wearing class rings at West Point
dates back to 1835. Clarke said the senior class motto of ‘Until the Battle is
Won’ is significant as it speaks to the resolve they’ll need to exhibit as leaders.
challenges we face constantly evolve and test our resilience,” Clarke said.
COVID-19 prevented families from seeing the ring ceremony live and has stopped
other social events on campus since last spring. In light of that, Clarke later
asked the class, “What if this challenging time is one of the easiest you’ll
face in your careers?”
message struck a chord with the Corps of cadets as they reflected in their time
at the academy, particularly this year given the restrictions in place to mitigate
Reilly McGinnis, the highest ranking member of the Corps of Cadets, noted that
Clarke, “put our years at the Academy in perspective…they prepare us for the
greater challenges that lie ahead. He reminded us that ‘it is not the will to
win, but rather the will to prepare to win that matters.’”
class will graduate 20 years after 9/11. The class of 2001, “Sat where these
seniors are now, enjoying their ring weekend, completely unaware they were on
the cusp of massive change,” Clarke said.
challenged the class to care deeply for the men and women placed under their
charge, “to reach Soldiers on a deep, human level…[and] inspire a passion for
personal growth, courage, and virtue.”
Cadet Adam McElligott, the Class Ring Committee Chairman,
reflected on Clarke’s remarks and said, “His message was a message of hope. We
may have conflict in our future, but there is also good to come. Our first
battle starts here at West Point, but it’s how we follow through in the future
long after we leave that will define who we become and what we make of
ourselves and the people around us.”