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<v Col. Roy K Flint>Ever since [audio goes out] ?colonial? days, the Hudson River, uh <v Col. Roy K Flint>Lake George, Lake Champlain route had been used as an invasion <v Col. Roy K Flint>route for armies either moving north toward the French in Canada or south <v Col. Roy K Flint>toward the English in New York. We're sitting uh on the banks <v Col. Roy K Flint>of the Hudson River. At that point, at which chain, the great <v Col. Roy K Flint>chain that was strung between Constitution Island and West Point was located <v Col. Roy K Flint>during the American Revolutionary War. <v Henry S. Commager>Nowhere was the contrast between the new American nation and the nations <v Henry S. Commager>of the Old World more dramatic than in the attitude toward the military. <v Henry S. Commager>The military was the establishment in all old world nations. <v Henry S. Commager>The sovereign was also the commander in chief of the armies and determined on war and <v Henry S. Commager>peace. In the new world, the attitude toward the military was one <v Henry S. Commager>of hostility and suspicion. <v Henry S. Commager>And how interesting it is that almost all the state constitutions wrote into <v Henry S. Commager>the the fundamental document that the uh civil shall always
<v Henry S. Commager>be superior to the military or as John Adams wrote in the <v Henry S. Commager>Massachusetts Constitution. <v Henry S. Commager>There should always be an exact subordination of the military to the <v Henry S. Commager>civilian power. [music plays] <v Speaker>[birds chirping] [explosion] [alarm clock ringing]
<v Cadet Ed Ruggero>There are times when I wonder what I'm doing here or <v Cadet Ed Ruggero>whether or not it's it's gonna be worth it all in the end or whether I can stand another <v Cadet Ed Ruggero>hour of it. There are times when I and I think that if one more day, it'll just drive me <v Cadet Ed Ruggero>absolutely bonkers. <v Cadet Ed Ruggero>And yet there are other times, too, that I feel I wouldn't trade places with anyone else. <v Cadet Ed Ruggero>Uh I don't I don't feel terribly constrained by the the value systems they impose <v Cadet Ed Ruggero>because there is a difference between internalizing values and just living under a <v Cadet Ed Ruggero>system. It's after three years, it's easy for me to comply with the regulations. <v Cadet Ed Ruggero>It's just a matter of of going through the routine. <v Cadet Ed Ruggero>However, the things that I choose to internalize as my own values are <v Cadet Ed Ruggero>are really what's important.
<v Cadet Ed Ruggero>[inaudible yelling] There is definitely a sense of being forced to live under a <v Cadet Ed Ruggero>particular system, but I don't think that they try and force their value system upon you. <v Cadet Ed Ruggero>And uh what I'm talking about uh a sense of uh integrity and and I <v Cadet Ed Ruggero>guess it's summed up best by the Academy's motto: Duty, Honor, Country. <v Cadet Ed Ruggero>[inaudible yelling] <v Joseph J. Ellis>Many people think of the best uh product of the Academy. <v Joseph J. Ellis>Well, they think of it in various ways. But um the academy sometimes makes itself sound <v Joseph J. Ellis>as if it were a kind of Harvard um or a kind of Fort <v Joseph J. Ellis>Benning. And so on the one hand, you would think that the best product of the Academy <v Joseph J. Ellis>would be a kind of uh professor or scholar. <v Joseph J. Ellis>Um on the other hand, you would think that the best product would be if the Fort Benning <v Joseph J. Ellis>metaphor holds true, a kind of grisly killer, um a <v Joseph J. Ellis>sort of George Patton Junior who likes to see the arms and the legs fly.
<v Joseph J. Ellis>In fact, I think that the uh from my point of view, the prototypical and <v Joseph J. Ellis>representative West Point graduate, the epitome would be someone like an astronaut <v Joseph J. Ellis>um that represents the kind of thing that West Pointers probably can do <v Joseph J. Ellis>better than the graduates of any other institution in this country, organized, <v Joseph J. Ellis>um disciplined um committed to a particular national cause, um <v Joseph J. Ellis>able to submerge their own individual interests and the interests of something larger <v Joseph J. Ellis>and technically proficient with some kind of an engineering background or something <v Joseph J. Ellis>that allows them to understand machinery. <v Joseph J. Ellis>Um those are the kind of uh pioneers that the country needs, I guess um and West Point's <v Joseph J. Ellis>liable to produce that, but they're not liable to produce some of the other things <v Joseph J. Ellis>that we sometimes look to them for um within the academy ground, they always <v Joseph J. Ellis>say that, you know, the hero should always get line up at the rear. <v Joseph J. Ellis>They're not looking for people who um are that unorthodox or that
<v Joseph J. Ellis>um erratic. We're predictable. <v Joseph J. Ellis>People who perform under stress in a calm and efficient way. <v Joseph J. Ellis>Neil Armstrong would be a good example. <v General Maxwell Taylor>I think it's well to understand the position of West Point in the structure of military <v General Maxwell Taylor>education of the American army, uh it is simply the <v General Maxwell Taylor>the basic the cornerstone, if you will, of the officer corps. <v General Maxwell Taylor>And only a small part of it. <v General Maxwell Taylor>West Point does not presume to produce a a qualified officer or even a junior <v General Maxwell Taylor>officer. But as soon as one graduates from West Point, he is really <v General Maxwell Taylor>a sort of generalist as a a lieutenant possible aspirant <v General Maxwell Taylor>with a general education for all branches of the service. <v General Maxwell Taylor>Then he goes to his own school. If he's an artillery man he goes to Fort ?Shill? <v General Maxwell Taylor>and stays a year to qualify as a battery grade officer in the artillery. <v General Maxwell Taylor>Then after practicing his profession for three or four years, you'll come back <v General Maxwell Taylor>again to, say, Fort ?Shill?. And there he gets advanced work preparing to command up to
<v General Maxwell Taylor>the battalion. After that, if he's promising, he'll be selected to go to the command and <v General Maxwell Taylor>General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, where he studies then the combined arms, <v General Maxwell Taylor>how they're put together to form artillery, infantry engineers, signal corps. <v General Maxwell Taylor>[shouting command] Then following that it, again practicing ?his? <v General Maxwell Taylor>profession, if he is uh among the very most promising officers, he'll go to the War <v General Maxwell Taylor>College in Washington. And there the level of interest is that of the level of the <v General Maxwell Taylor>government. He sees for the first time how the the military establishment meshes with the <v General Maxwell Taylor>civilian government and relationships between civilian and military leadership at <v General Maxwell Taylor>the very top. So West Point is the starting point, a very important one, but far being <v General Maxwell Taylor>the entire requirement for a professional officer. <v Man 1>?First? sergeant. [inaudible yelling] [march playing] <v Cadet James Coe>I've seen the movies. I thought it was a free education.
<v Cadet James Coe>It ranked with Ivy League schools and I said hey that'd be a nice thing to do, maybe go <v Cadet James Coe>to school there some time like I dreamed about and then just kind of forgot about it. <v Cadet James Coe>And then when it actually came to deciding where I was going to go for my education, uh <v Cadet James Coe>West Point again came up and I thought I'd give it a give it a whirl and and try <v Cadet James Coe>to come here. What really it boils down to is that <v Cadet James Coe>the reason we're here is duty, honor and country. <v Cadet James Coe>It is our our ethos. It's what sets us apart from a lot of other people. <v Cadet James Coe>It's more than just what you can learn in books or anything like that. <v Cadet James Coe>It teaches to have moral courage. <v Cadet James Coe>Its duty is doing something for our country. <v Cadet James Coe>Uh being patriotic. I think that's also what what West Point teaches. <v Cadet James Coe>You know, we're number four as far as Rhodes scholars go, but that's not really why <v Cadet James Coe>we're here. And we're not here for athletics and we're not here for discipline. <v Cadet James Coe>The military Individual has to be ready to give <v Cadet James Coe>his life for his country. <v Cadet James Coe>The concept that that West Point embodies is duty, honor, country.
<v Cadet James Coe>We are a little more aware of what we're doing and why we're doing it. <v Cadet James Coe>Uh and for that reason, I think that that's why I stayed at West Point. <v Cadet Ed Ruggero>I think that my perceptions of the academy have changed somewhat. <v Cadet Ed Ruggero>I think that perhaps before I came, I was- had <v Cadet Ed Ruggero>fallen prey perhaps to a lot of the perceptions that I think a good part of the public <v Cadet Ed Ruggero>feels that uh the academy is a sterile environment or one <v Cadet Ed Ruggero>composed entirely of one type of of individual who uh <v Cadet Ed Ruggero>is is very goal oriented and a high achiever, as <v Cadet Ed Ruggero>it were. Having been here a while, I realize that <v Cadet Ed Ruggero>it wouldn't be possible to take 4000 people uh of any age group <v Cadet Ed Ruggero>out of the public and get uh something other than general sampling. <v Cadet Ed Ruggero>You're gonna you get a fair distribution of people across the board. <v Cadet Ed Ruggero>Don't get anyone who you don't get people who are have the same values <v Cadet Ed Ruggero>when they come in here. Um but I can see where that's better
<v Cadet Ed Ruggero>than what I thought of the place. <v Joseph J. Ellis>West Pointers as a group collectively and they, of course, hate you- hate <v Joseph J. Ellis>for anyone to talk about them collectively, since when people tourists come to see them, <v Joseph J. Ellis>they think they're all the same. They're all wearing the same clothes and um they they <v Joseph J. Ellis>want each- they want you to recognize that each of them is a separate individual soul. <v Joseph J. Ellis>And of course they are. But you can talk collectively about West Pointers. <v Joseph J. Ellis>The socialization process that is a West Point education really does mold them into <v Joseph J. Ellis>a common mold. <v Joseph J. Ellis>Um and one of the the goals of West Point education is, is to produce <v Joseph J. Ellis>a soldier or a um a professional who will <v Joseph J. Ellis>perform the mission, assigned him and now her more effectively and efficiently <v Joseph J. Ellis>than anyone else. But that the West Pointers function is not <v Joseph J. Ellis>to ask questions about the mission. <v Joseph J. Ellis>They're not there to define what the problem is. <v Joseph J. Ellis>They're there to try to provide an answer to problems which someone else has already
<v Joseph J. Ellis>given them. Now, in the grand scheme of things, this makes a kind of sense <v Joseph J. Ellis>because the distinction between the civilians and the military in this particular country <v Joseph J. Ellis>suggests that the civilian should make policy decisions and the military should implement <v Joseph J. Ellis>those decisions. <v Joseph J. Ellis>Um we are, as they would say, the bullet in the gun. <v Joseph J. Ellis>Uh someone else fires us. <v Joseph J. Ellis>Um I think that on the one hand, if we get involved in a war again and the soldiers <v Joseph J. Ellis>are sitting around waiting to attack a pillbox, the order comes down, I don't want a um <v Joseph J. Ellis>a lieutenant who starts to speculate on the meaning of of aggression or starts <v Joseph J. Ellis>quoting from Moby Dick. I want somebody who's gonna lead the soldiers towards the <v Joseph J. Ellis>pillbox. The uh the problem with that is that we <v Joseph J. Ellis>have recently become engaged in a war, the Vietnam War, in which the distinction between <v Joseph J. Ellis>policy and implementation is not so clear. <v Joseph J. Ellis>And in fact, soldiers found themselves in a position where they were at least indirectly <v Joseph J. Ellis>making policy.
<v Joseph J. Ellis>Um West Pointers are not very good at that. <v Joseph J. Ellis>In my opinion, there might be individuals who are good at that. <v Joseph J. Ellis>But the West Point education by itself plays that down. <v Joseph J. Ellis>Within the classroom at West Point, you ask what the causes of the French Revolution <v Joseph J. Ellis>are and they think that you can list them. <v Joseph J. Ellis>One, two, three, four. The French Revolution is like an M-16, a weapon you can <v Joseph J. Ellis>take apart and put together again. <v Joseph J. Ellis>They don't wanna ask philosophical questions about it. <v Joseph J. Ellis>They don't wanna become too speculative about it. <v Joseph J. Ellis>In fact, in most cases, feel somewhat uneasy when put into those kind of situations. <v Joseph J. Ellis>Um on the other hand, I do think that the world we live in now is one in which military <v Joseph J. Ellis>and civilian segments or spheres are no longer a separable. <v Joseph J. Ellis>And I think that the academy is a place where the kind of thoughtfulness, <v Joseph J. Ellis>the kind of uh deeper thinking, um the kind of non engineer <v Joseph J. Ellis>thinking that is gonna have to go on at the higher echelons in the army <v Joseph J. Ellis>ought to go on more than it does. <v Speaker>[chairs shuffling] [inaudible talking]
<v Michael Silverman>Thank you. Take your seats. <v Michael Silverman>Is there anybody who doesn't have their lab report ready? <v Col. Lee O. Olvey>I think uh we suffered in terms of student interest <v Col. Lee O. Olvey>in the 60s ?you know? following the Vietnam conflict, just <v Col. Lee O. Olvey>as colleges across the country did. <v Michael Silverman>OK. So look at problem number six. <v Col. Lee O. Olvey>It has been argued, and I believe it's correct, that the high school programs suffered a <v Col. Lee O. Olvey>breakdown and this in turn impacted on what happened subsequently in college. <v Col. Lee O. Olvey>If you look back at the 60s and what was happening on college <v Col. Lee O. Olvey>campuses across the country, uh it was literally a disaster area. <v Michael Silverman>?inaudible? OK, thanks. Have a seat. <v Capt. Robert W. Miller>OK. There was a couple of interesting articles in the paper today on uh <v Capt. Robert W. Miller>energy issues. <v Col. Lee O. Olvey>It's very clear to me. I've been teaching cadets for the past decade. <v Col. Lee O. Olvey>Nuclear power has been viewed as. And uh there is a noticeable uh increase <v Col. Lee O. Olvey>and uh commitment and interest in uh things found
<v Col. Lee O. Olvey>in textbooks. <v Capt. Robert W. Miller>Six months in particularly in the uh last three months with the Three Mile Island <v Capt. Robert W. Miller>situation where American people have begun to realize that, hey, we <v Capt. Robert W. Miller>need to rethink this. And this may not be the answer. <v Capt. Robert W. Miller>Where we gonna go? R&D funds have begun to shift. <v Capt. Robert W. Miller>Uh we are spending more now on uh the more soft technology, solar <v Capt. Robert W. Miller>um and other technologies there. You- do you think that that's a valid argument? <v Capt. Robert W. Miller>Do we have to make a choice now? Go in one direction or the other? <v Capt. Robert W. Miller>Steve. <v Steve>We will see some innovations, especially like home solar uh units and uh <v Steve>greater efficiency of the use of energy. Things like that will come into play. <v Steve>But odds are that the combined approach would probably be what happens just because there <v Steve>is political influences on both sides. <v Man 2>Congress isn't gonna triple the defense budget in one year. <v Man 2>We might have the capacity to triple it. Soviets can't possibly keep up with that <v Man 2>tripling. It's irrelevant 'cause we're probably barely gonna increase the defense budget <v Man 2>anyway. <v Capt. Tom Wheelock>That's a stronger case for SALT then. <v Man 2>I agree sir, I think SALT's a good idea.
<v Capt. Tom Wheelock>Any other comments? <v Man 3>The ?Soviets? have also got the same thing because right now they're putting more of <v Man 3>their GDP into military uh development than we are really. <v Man 4>The Soviet Union they might have a increased consumer demand, but it's ?inaudible?. <v Man 4>It's not gonna get to the point where it's gonna affect government decisions on how they <v Man 4>allocate their money. So it's not really about the statement right there at all. <v Man 2>Hmm. It's more whether we had the capability to outrace 'em, our government's not gonna <v Man 2>let us do it. <v Capt. Tom Wheelock>Any other comments on uh on the agreement? <v Man 4>I think it's a mistake. <v Capt. Tom Wheelock>You think it's a mistake? <v Man 4>No guarantee that the Soviets' gonna hold back. <v Man 4>?inaudible? Put ourselves in a pretty precarious position, just- <v Capt. Tom Wheelock>Eh hold back. You mean that they- they'd be inclined to cheat? <v Man 4>Yes sir I think so. <v Lt. General A. Goodpaster>I think one thing that I do see is uh an increase uh <v Lt. General A. Goodpaster>an increased individualism. <v Lt. General A. Goodpaster>And uh that, I think, is to be welcomed. <v Lt. General A. Goodpaster>Uh it does create a little more of a of a challenge uh in <v Lt. General A. Goodpaster>uh uh operating a uh an institution uh which really
<v Lt. General A. Goodpaster>is aimed at a certain set of objectives. <v Lt. General A. Goodpaster>Those objectives come from the role that our officers have to perform in the army. <v Robert Moore>I think the Academy could do a much better job than it's doing in being <v Robert Moore>honest with itself about a dual mission and the kind of <v Robert Moore>problems and dilemmas that are created by that dual mission. <v Robert Moore>Instead, senior officials have historically tended to talk around <v Robert Moore>what is really at issue, which is, on the one hand, people who are being asked to <v Robert Moore>participate in an engineering education with some liberal arts <v Robert Moore>influence and at the same time, go through, particularly in the summers, an <v Robert Moore>intensive military indoctrination and training process. <v Robert Moore>The sole goal of which is to make them servants of the state and the ultimate <v Robert Moore>mission of closing with and destroying an enemy, whoever that enemy is. <v Robert Moore>And that enemy is not an enemy you identify, but it's an enemy the state identifies <v Robert Moore>for you.
<v Michael Silverman>Section dismissed. <v Lt. General A. Goodpaster>Well, there are two aspects here. <v Lt. General A. Goodpaster>On the one hand, our young people must have a sound undergraduate <v Lt. General A. Goodpaster>education. Along with that, they have to understand the military <v Lt. General A. Goodpaster>obligation. And that can very, very certainly require <v Lt. General A. Goodpaster>that they lead units uh where people kill and get killed, <v Lt. General A. Goodpaster>uh that ultimately uh if your nation and if your people are going to remain <v Lt. General A. Goodpaster>free, they've got to be willing to fight for that freedom. <v Man 5>[chanting] He was just a ?inaudible? and he surely shook with pride. <v Man 5>Taking is. <v Man 5>He ?inaudible? equipment and made sure his back was tied. <v Man 5>He jumped into the icy blast ?inaudible? and he ain't gonna jump no more. [inaudible singing] [music plays] <v Robert Moore>Particularly in the 1960s and 1970s, the academy has had tremendous
<v Robert Moore>cultural pressures brought on it, primarily because it's an American <v Robert Moore>institution and America in the last two decades has been very confused. <v Robert Moore>We as a nation have been very confused about what our even even our basic priorities <v Robert Moore>are and how we're gonna go about meeting them. <v Robert Moore>And it's very much of a strain on people who are in a profession <v Robert Moore>which profession calls upon them to be servants of the state, if the state <v Robert Moore>doesn't know, even in a general way, what its basic priorities <v Robert Moore>are, or if it calls upon them to be engaged in a war, and the <v Robert Moore>mission that they are given in that war is not clear as in Vietnam, <v Robert Moore>it so frequently was not clear. [drumming] [cheering] <v Joseph J. Ellis>I <v Joseph J. Ellis>think that the academy is a kind of inkblot test or Rorschach
<v Joseph J. Ellis>test for American public opinion. <v Joseph J. Ellis>And in times in which uh the military is um <v Joseph J. Ellis>looked upon with some degree of skepticism or where established institutions are under <v Joseph J. Ellis>assault or criticism like the 1930s, the 1960s, the academy <v Joseph J. Ellis>stock tends to go down. In times when things are reasonably <v Joseph J. Ellis>prosperous and the uh values of this country look to be rather good, the <v Joseph J. Ellis>academy stock is very high. <v Joseph J. Ellis>Uh I think that in the late 70s and into the 80s, I would predict the <v Joseph J. Ellis>academy's reputation will will go up. <v Joseph J. Ellis>[distant cheering] <v Col. Roy K Flint>On uh March 16, 1802, President Thomas <v Col. Roy K Flint>Jefferson signed a bill that formally established the <v Col. Roy K Flint>United States Military Academy. <v Col. Roy K Flint>He was also then responsible for the means by which cadets were brought
<v Col. Roy K Flint>here. And this is the process wherein congressmen, <v Col. Roy K Flint>representatives and senators could send young men to the military academy <v Col. Roy K Flint>as cadets. It was also obviously a form of patronage, <v Col. Roy K Flint>but it had the effect of distributing the population of cadets in approximation <v Col. Roy K Flint>of the population of the United States. <v Woman 1>It all seems so monumental. We really didn't think that he would be accepted. <v Woman 1>[laughs] <v Man 6>We had enough connections. I thought it took more connections, political or whatever <v Man 6>uh where actually, as we said, he did it all on his own, uh <v Man 6>strictly from applying. <v Man 6>And I didn't think he'd have a chance. <v Man 6>I was extremely proud. <v Cadet Curt Doescher>Well when I was younger, we used to always take, you know, trips, picnics and stuff <v Cadet Curt Doescher>up to West Point. And you look at the cadets and you see <v Cadet Curt Doescher>like they command authority or, you know, it's just some kind uh- something about
<v Cadet Curt Doescher>'em, you know, a mystique or something. They get respect from the outside by people <v Cadet Curt Doescher>on the outside. You say, you know, wow, someday I would like to be like that. <v Cadet Curt Doescher>And um, you know, you live in this country and I can't <v Cadet Curt Doescher>think of what it would be like to live somewhere else, like you don't have the things <v Cadet Curt Doescher>that we have. You don't have the freedoms that we have and you take it for granted. <v Cadet Curt Doescher>You seem to take it for granted. And, you know, you don't realize it what a great <v Cadet Curt Doescher>country, what a great life this is. <v Woman 1>What I'm looking forward to is dropping you off at 7:30 in the morning on July 2nd <v Woman 1>and then at 5 o'clock that night to see all of these young <v Woman 1>men march along and some kind of ?formation?- <v Man 6>?inaudible? <v Woman 1>-transformation. <v Announcer>Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the United States Military Academy. <v Announcer>It's an honor to have this opportunity to talk with you, the beginning of this reception <v Announcer>day for the West Point class of 1983.
<v Announcer>Today is both the culmination and the beginning, the culmination of an <v Announcer>intensive selection process and the beginning of the new and <v Announcer>unparallel opportunities. <v Announcer>At the same time, today represents a continuation of the very special tradition of <v Announcer>service. Traditions of duty, <v Announcer>honor, country. <v Announcer>When I was in 9th or 10th grade, an uncle, you know, he said, <v Announcer>now you're smart enough to go to West Point. And I I said, forget it I'm not going to <v Announcer>West but I- you know, I guess I looked into it and somehow <v Announcer>I said that that was for me, but I wasn't really pushed by my family. <v Announcer>You know it was the decision was really on my own. <v Announcer>A lot of my friends think I'm crazy. <v Announcer>You know, everybody thinks of going into business or becoming a doctor or a lawyer or <v Announcer>whatever. This is this is something that's this is a worthwhile <v Announcer>profession, too. This is something that has to be done.
<v Announcer>And I guess you might say that it takes a special kind of person to do it. <v Announcer>And whether or not I'm that kind of person, I'll find out in the next <v Announcer>number of years. [drumming] <v Cadet Curt Doescher>My father was showing me all the stuff of his old army days <v Cadet Curt Doescher>?inaudible? and all that stuff. I said I'll never get that, but I guess ?inaudible?. <v Announcer 2>Raise your right hands and repeat after me.
<v Announcer 2>I and state your full name [crowd repeating] do <v Announcer 2>solemnly swear [repeating] that I will support <v Announcer 2>the Constitution of the United States <v Announcer 2>[repeating] and bear true allegiance to the national government [repeating]. <v Announcer 2>That I will maintain and defend the sovereignty of the United States [repeating] <v Announcer 2>paramount <v Announcer 2>to any and all allegiance [repeating] <v Announcer 2>sovereignty or fealty I may owe to any state <v Announcer 2>or country whatsoever [repeating]. [water lapping] <v Col. Roy K Flint>Jefferson's dream of creating a body of engineers
<v Col. Roy K Flint>was really fulfilled and largely through the efforts of Silvanus Thayer, who is now <v Col. Roy K Flint>known as the father of the military academy. <v Col. Roy K Flint>Thayer became the superintendent of the military academy in uh <v Col. Roy K Flint>1817. He was very much impressed by the French educational system. <v Col. Roy K Flint>He was impressed by Napoleon. He was uh impressed with the French army. <v Col. Roy K Flint>And uh Thayer brought great reform. <v Col. Roy K Flint>And in fact, established the first respectable, substantial engineering <v Col. Roy K Flint>school in the United States. <v Col. Roy K Flint>[singing] <v Jeff Gunzenhauser>My name is Jeff Gunzenhauser. I come from uh Lancaster, Pennsylvania. <v Jeff Gunzenhauser>Uh it's a farming community, south central Pennsylvania. <v Jeff Gunzenhauser>Um I don't have any military experience in my background neither my father nor my mother <v Jeff Gunzenhauser>nor really any of my relations are from the military. <v Jeff Gunzenhauser>I came to West Point mainly because I thought the discipline
<v Jeff Gunzenhauser>was something that I think every young man should experience. <v Jeff Gunzenhauser>That age, when I was 18, I felt that uh that <v Jeff Gunzenhauser>there are certain trends going on in our country right now. <v Jeff Gunzenhauser>And I think there's a very uh strong tendency for <v Jeff Gunzenhauser>liberalization, getting away from discipline and that sort of thing. <v Jeff Gunzenhauser>I felt at that time that discipline was something that I needed. <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>There are four answers that that new cadets learn, one of the very first <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>day, ?probably? very first thing they learn, they learn 4 answers to every situation, <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>every question. Yes, sir. <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>No, sir. No excuse, sir. And sir, I do not understand. <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>And whenever they're asked a question, those are the only responses they're supposed to <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>answer. And you learn- well, it took me a long time to learn it, but <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>I've finally learned that uh yes, sir. <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>No, sir. Pretty- you know you can use them to most most questions. <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>But when you do something wrong and they ask you, why did you do it?
<v Cadet Robin Fennessy>You you answer no excuse, sir. And that's the hardest one right there. <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>Because um if you really think about usually whatever happened <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>was uh there really was no excuse for it. <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>You b- prioritized your time wrong, um you you polished your boots instead <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>of uh ya know shine your belt buckle or some silly thing. <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>And uh as a commander, you make decisions all the time and you have to stand <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>by 'em. There's no one else responsible. <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>Um if you're told, take that hill and you don't take it, you know, <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>there is no reason why it wasn't taken. I mean, you can say, well, you know, I didn't <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>have enough ammunition. I did- hey, situation is it wasn't taken. <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>It makes you think about the weight of your decisions. <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>You don't make them lightly and uh you stand behind 'em when you make 'em. <v Jeff Gunzenhauser>And it's really a very interesting phenomena in terms of <v Jeff Gunzenhauser>uh other schools, because it is the cadets that really pass all the information <v Jeff Gunzenhauser>uh to all the cadets. They take care of their own operations.
<v Jeff Gunzenhauser>They uh- they enforce their own rules. <v Jeff Gunzenhauser>They police themselves. <v Jeff Gunzenhauser>Basically, they take care of of everything. <v Cadet Holly Getz>A company can't run without the police class because that's really who they do, <v Cadet Holly Getz>all the little chores that the company runs on. <v Cadet Holly Getz>And if there weren't any plebes who would the upper class lead? <v Cadet Holly Getz>[laughs] [announcer speaking] So we were just objects <v Cadet Holly Getz>I guess this year. We didn't really have an identity and we couldn't be called by our <v Cadet Holly Getz>first names. So when we get recognized, everyone's all <v Cadet Holly Getz>a sudden a friend. <v Cadet Holly Getz>[inaudible chatting] And we find out that the people that were that were big hazers <v Cadet Holly Getz>during the year, really they're really normal people [laughs] and they don't- they don't <v Cadet Holly Getz>yell and scream like that normally. [cheering] <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>I wanna be an Army officer, and if I'd wanted to be a a lawyer, I'd go
<v Cadet Robin Fennessy>to Harvard. If I wanted to be uh an engineer I'd go to M.I.T. <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>But if I wanna be a soldier, go to West Point, 'cause that's where they train you to <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>be a soldier. <v Jeff Gunzenhauser>I've chosen to go into the medical corps and I I feel very lucky to be able <v Jeff Gunzenhauser>to do this. <v Jeff Gunzenhauser>For me, it creates some difficulty. Our primary mission here is not to train medical <v Jeff Gunzenhauser>corps officers, doctors, and yet I feel that I have have the academic <v Jeff Gunzenhauser>ability and I have the motivation to be an officer for 20 years or 25 <v Jeff Gunzenhauser>years and serve as a medical corps officer, a doctor. <v Jeff Gunzenhauser>[yelling] [announcer speaking] <v Cadet Holly Getz>[continued shouting] Right now, I'm from Fort Bragg, North Carolina. <v Cadet Holly Getz>My father's the operations officer for the 18th Airborne Corps down there, and <v Cadet Holly Getz>he graduated '59 in what they call the old
<v Cadet Holly Getz>corps [laughs]. He when he was here it was a lot harder. <v Cadet Holly Getz>Their first year they couldn't go home for Christmas, and there were a lot more <v Cadet Holly Getz>restrictions. They couldn't have their cars until like halfway through their senior year <v Cadet Holly Getz>and now the- the cadets get 'em when they're juniors. <v Cadet Holly Getz>I remember last summer when the first time we were loud- allowed to come <v Cadet Holly Getz>home, it was like three weeks into ?these? <v Cadet Holly Getz>barracks and things have changed a lot but he knew what I was going through and he <v Cadet Holly Getz>knew it was hard. And I think he was sort of proud that I didn't give <v Cadet Holly Getz>up. And I kept going. <v Announcer 3>Kick him hard, he don't mind. Kick 'em hard, he likes it. <v Cadet Holly Getz>It's what's basically the hardest is um running around in the woods with all the <v Cadet Holly Getz>equipment on. That's uncomfortable for everyone, not just the women. <v Cadet Holly Getz>The men have trouble with that, too. <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>They- I think they worked on the assumption that we'll put the women through it <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>and we'll see how they do. And if they don't do as well, then we'll adjust the <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>standards for the women, but um we'll keep the men's standards same.
<v Cadet Robin Fennessy>And that way uh we'll only make changes, physiological difference changes. <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>So everything that we did and we did the same as the guys did and uh <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>those things that we failed, though we didn't do as well and they would change it, but uh <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>they the standards are a lot higher for both men and the women than they thought it was <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>going to be. <v Cadet Holly Getz>They couldn't change everything for the women. <v Cadet Holly Getz>So the uniforms look pretty much the same. <v Cadet Holly Getz>But so they just modified them and they really don't look [laughs] good on women <v Cadet Holly Getz>at all. [shooting] <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>The first year it was a ?hot house? it's like a a totally created environment. <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>They ?bring in? 1400 cadets every year <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>and they give 'em a set of regulations to live by, a whole set of rules live by, and <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>they they isolate us here pretty much. <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>We don't- we aren't allowed leave all that often um- the first semester you're <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>not allowed to have radios.
<v Cadet Robin Fennessy>You don't watch television. You um get The New York Times and they bring <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>in a couple of magazines. But uh you're really out of touch with what's really happening <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>outside the walls. <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>Um you live, breathe, eat, survive West Point regulations, <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>this system. And it's totally a created environment. <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>They teach us how to be cadets. <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>Now, I don't know whether or not they teach us how to be officers. <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>That's the the mission. That's what they're trying to do. <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>I imagine they they do pretty well since they've made a lot of good officers out of this <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>place. But how am I gonna be able to relate to a soldier in my <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>unit who comes in and can't make ends meet you know financially or there's <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>um problems of homosexuality and drugs and race and all these things that they <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>they try to make it relevant to the real world but then we- in order to teach us things, <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>I guess they have a hot house in order to create beautiful flowers. <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>Well, they create a West Point, they get great officers and and maybe it works <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>and maybe it doesn't. I don't know. But um it's it's really it's a whole
<v Cadet Robin Fennessy>different world. It really is. You'd have to live it to understand it because <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>it's a whole different world. It's just not like anything out there. <v Cadet Robin Fennessy>[singing] [music playing] [clapping] <v Col. Roy K Flint>In the early years of the military academy, particularly from the time that Thayer was
<v Col. Roy K Flint>superintendent up to about the Civil War, 9 ?inaudible? <v Col. Roy K Flint>military academy was a preeminent engineering <v Col. Roy K Flint>school. It was the first engineering school in the country. <v Col. Roy K Flint>And for that first period of its existence, <v Col. Roy K Flint>it was at the front edge of educational technique. <v Col. Roy K Flint>Its graduates were well known. They were successful. <v Col. Roy K Flint>They were engineers. <v Col. Roy K Flint>They built the railroads and the canals and the roads of this country in the first years <v Col. Roy K Flint>of the 19th century, and then the civil war came along <v Col. Roy K Flint>and the graduates of the military academy experienced great success. <v Col. Roy K Flint>Some 60 battles fought during the Civil War, 55 <v Col. Roy K Flint>were commanded on both sides by military academy graduates. <v Col. Roy K Flint>And then the other 5 battles ?or so? a graduate commanded one side or the other. <v Col. Roy K Flint>So so there's no question West Point was uh very uh clearly a part <v Col. Roy K Flint>of not only the military scene for which it's most famous, but it was a
<v Col. Roy K Flint>very progressive educational institution, too. <v Col. Roy K Flint>But it seems that in the postwar period, there was a tendency <v Col. Roy K Flint>to be satisfied with the traditional methods. <v Col. Roy K Flint>Now, that wouldn't have been so bad because those traditional methods were still <v Col. Roy K Flint>effective. <v Col. Roy K Flint>But the military academy as an engineering school, was overtaken <v Col. Roy K Flint>and surpassed by other engineering schools in the country. <v Col. Roy K Flint>So that as uh an educational institution, it began to appear <v Col. Roy K Flint>almost backwards, so that at the end of World War I, <v Col. Roy K Flint>there was a renewal of the criticism of West Point that had begun <v Col. Roy K Flint>in the early years, that it was a a school that generated <v Col. Roy K Flint>itself through nepotism. <v Col. Roy K Flint>Uh it was uh an elite that they didn't understand the people <v Col. Roy K Flint>in this vastly expanded 4 million man army.
<v Col. Roy K Flint>And MacArthur was sent to the military academy to be the superintendent <v Col. Roy K Flint>to redirect without sacrificing any of the old virtues, <v Col. Roy K Flint>the uh military academy along new and more progressive lines. <v Col. Roy K Flint>[music continues] <v Henry S. Commager>We have never really had a national enemy except the Indian <v Henry S. Commager>who was the most fortunate of all national enemies for our purposes, because there <v Henry S. Commager>was a built in guarantee that the whites would win. <v Henry S. Commager>The Indians provided something of the same psychological advantage <v Henry S. Commager>for nationalism and for unity uh that um national enemies did <v Henry S. Commager>abroad. And what all this meant was <v Henry S. Commager>that the sou- [stuttering] it was at the [stuttering] the United States alone of <v Henry S. Commager>major nations developed not only without a military, but without
<v Henry S. Commager>a military psychology. And that at no time has there been <v Henry S. Commager>a formal or overt challenge to the principle of <v Henry S. Commager>military subordination. <v General Maxwell Taylor>I I I don't know of any institution in the country more dedicated <v General Maxwell Taylor>to civilian leadership and accepts it more willingly than the armed forces <v General Maxwell Taylor>as an institution. <v General Maxwell Taylor>We know that we view the present, not only the chief executive, but in a special role <v General Maxwell Taylor>?toward? us he is the commander in chief in civilian clothes, but he- ?all? <v General Maxwell Taylor>authority down to the the last corporal draws his authority <v General Maxwell Taylor>from the commander the president as commander in chief. <v General Maxwell Taylor>Hence, we are loyal to him because we know that loyalty is one one of those attributes or <v General Maxwell Taylor>character that must be must be uh <v General Maxwell Taylor>uh within the within the the nature of the <v General Maxwell Taylor>of the professional officer. <v General Maxwell Taylor>And hence the question of obedience is essential. <v General Maxwell Taylor>That doesn't mean the blind obedience, you could be very intelligently critical of many
<v General Maxwell Taylor>things that take place in the uh soldier as Napoleon always said, the good soldier, <v General Maxwell Taylor>the ?inaudible?, the grumbler. <v General Maxwell Taylor>The grumbler. Yes, but the grumbler also obeyed. <v Henry S. Commager>There were, to be sure, two occasions in our history when <v Henry S. Commager>uh uh generals got out of hand and had to be removed. <v Henry S. Commager>General McClellan got out of hand, thought he could conduct his own <v Henry S. Commager>uh war in his own way, and Lincoln removed him and General <v Henry S. Commager>MacArthur got out of hand and Truman removed him. <v General Maxwell Taylor>When President Truman relieved General MacArthur uh from his command in in <v General Maxwell Taylor>the Far East, uh many of my civilian friends have been surprised <v General Maxwell Taylor>to hear me say that I knew of no senior officer who knew all the facts, who did not <v General Maxwell Taylor>support the present. <v General Maxwell Taylor>The obligation of obedience is very clear. <v General Maxwell Taylor>Now, in case you are sure that the your superior, whether military or civilian, <v General Maxwell Taylor>is wrong and you are right, then you have two problems. <v General Maxwell Taylor>Either to tell yourself, oh maybe I don't know all the facts that that man has.
<v General Maxwell Taylor>I could be wrong and proceeded to execute the ?inaudible?. <v General Maxwell Taylor>Or secondly, you can resign. Turn in your suit as we say. <v General Maxwell Taylor>H- then go out and hire a hall and tell the world why you did it. <v General Maxwell Taylor>But certainly the any suggestion that an officer ever justified <v General Maxwell Taylor>in uniform, publicly and intentionally criticizing his superior, violates <v General Maxwell Taylor>that ethic that I grew up with and all my contemporaries as well. <v Henry S. Commager>What has developed to something most extraordinary in uh modern times, something <v Henry S. Commager>unprecedented in our own history. <v Henry S. Commager>And without clear precedents in other Western nations, <v Henry S. Commager>that is the enlargement and an the the <v Henry S. Commager>insinuation into our society and our economy of what <v Henry S. Commager>Eisenhower called the military industrial complex. <v Henry S. Commager>It was, of course, President ?Moss? who y- wrote that uh speech, but <v Henry S. Commager>we associate it with Eisenhower's farewell address.
<v Henry S. Commager>It is, of course, much more than that. <v Henry S. Commager>The reas- if it were merely military industrial, it would not be so formidable. <v Henry S. Commager>It is, of course, a military industrial, labor, uh <v Henry S. Commager>banking, uh university, uh research, scientific complex, and <v Henry S. Commager>perhaps even more than that. <v Henry S. Commager>Almost all the major institutions of American life are now involved. <v Henry S. Commager>Not so much in war as in a creating a security state whose <v Henry S. Commager>purpose is to avoid war to be sure, but uh whose character involves <v Henry S. Commager>us in just the kind of uh uh <v Henry S. Commager>concentration on defense and concentration on the military that we successfully avoided <v Henry S. Commager>uh for a century and a century and three quarters. <v General W.C. Westmoreland>In the international arena, the purpose of the military is to prevent <v General W.C. Westmoreland>war, to deter war by virtue of the fact that we have an army <v General W.C. Westmoreland>that is strong enough for a military force, that is strong enough to convince a would <v General W.C. Westmoreland>be enemy that he dare not attack us.
<v General W.C. Westmoreland>And our democracy won't work unless we adhere to a very <v General W.C. Westmoreland>fundamental principle that we inherited from the British and they inherited from Roman <v General W.C. Westmoreland>law. For every right there's a duty. <v General W.C. Westmoreland>I know in the last few years we have put inordinate emphasis on rights <v General W.C. Westmoreland>and in the process we've neglected the duties of citizenship. <v General W.C. Westmoreland>This is a very fundamental weakness in our society today. <v General W.C. Westmoreland>And from that weakness, you can trace a lot of problems that we face today. <v Henry S. Commager>The psychology of the defense state at the security state has now <v Henry S. Commager>conquered American uh statesmen and uh <v Henry S. Commager>American scientists and perhaps American public opinion. <v General W.C. Westmoreland>I think uh by virtue of our default in Vietnam, we've lost an awful lot of credibility. <v General W.C. Westmoreland>Our prestige around the world is at an all time low. <v Henry S. Commager>It is a sobering thought that between 40 and 50 percent of all scientific research <v Henry S. Commager>in America is now directed to the military or to subjects connected with the military.
<v General W.C. Westmoreland>One of the developments that resulted from the Vietnam experience <v General W.C. Westmoreland>was uh this continuation of conscription, selective service. <v General W.C. Westmoreland>And as a result of this, the manpower situation and the military forces <v General W.C. Westmoreland>fall short of that, which, in my opinion, is needed. <v General W.C. Westmoreland>[explosion] [music playing] <v Joseph J. Ellis>There are things about it and there are times when I'm there which <v Joseph J. Ellis>um make me think this is the greatest institution in the world. <v Joseph J. Ellis>I taught there for three years and was extremely critical of a lot of things that went <v Joseph J. Ellis>on, but a friend had a private copy of uh the Long Gray Line,
<v Joseph J. Ellis>the movie starring Tyrone Power. And we all sat around my wife and I sat around watching <v Joseph J. Ellis>it. When it was over, we were crying. [cheering] It has a <v Joseph J. Ellis>a ability to pull your own emotions out of you and to pull you <v Joseph J. Ellis>into it. <v Joseph J. Ellis>And yet at other times it has the uh exact opposite impact <v Joseph J. Ellis>on me. I really worry about the place and I worry about what it represents <v Joseph J. Ellis>and the values it represents. I worry about the militarization of American society. <v Joseph J. Ellis>I worried- worry about the kind of thoughtlessness of some of the graduates. <v Joseph J. Ellis>Um both those things coexist. I wish that the world was a little more logical than that, <v Joseph J. Ellis>and I wish that I was a little bit more capable of being consistent. <v Joseph J. Ellis>But um if Emmerson is right that a foolish consistency <v Joseph J. Ellis>is the ?hobgoblin? of little minds, then I'm not at least a little mind. <v Joseph J. Ellis>[bugs chirping] <v Col. Roy K Flint>[inaudible chatting] Well,
<v Col. Roy K Flint>I think that in spite of the controversy that surrounded the Vietnam War and the <v Col. Roy K Flint>the feelings that people seem to have towards the army professionals, <v Col. Roy K Flint>there's one thing that you that you can say and that in spite of attitudes <v Col. Roy K Flint>and dissent and and c- and criticism, the West Point classes <v Col. Roy K Flint>marched off again, as they have in previous wars, to fight <v Col. Roy K Flint>to do what their what their nation asked them to do. <v Col. Roy K Flint>Whether or not what they did was popular really is <v Col. Roy K Flint>not the issue here. <v Col. Roy K Flint>What is the issue is, as far as the military academy is concerned, is that <v Col. Roy K Flint>is that its graduates recognize that its that its uh <v Col. Roy K Flint>priorities uh lay with what General MacArthur referred to in his famous
<v Col. Roy K Flint>speech. And and it and that which is the motto of the military academy. <v Col. Roy K Flint>Duty, honor and country. <v Col. Roy K Flint>And so they once again answered the call as they will <v Col. Roy K Flint>in the future, if ever called upon, fight again. <v Col. Roy K Flint>[music plays]
World Exchange
No Excuse, Sir
Producing Organization
Hudson River Film Company
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The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
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Episode Description
"'NO EXCUSE, SIR' examines the role that the United States Military Academy at West Point plays in our national defense. It traces the history and looks into current goals and expectations of the Academy. Interviews with cadets, professors, and officers trained at West Point are played off against critics of the Academy. Cadet life (both men and women) is documented with footage of summer military training, graduation, initiation of new cadets, 'Beast Barracks' parades, and routine daily activities that occur during the school year. Historical information is illustrated with old photographs of cadets and the Academy along with paintings and sculptures. Additional footage of the military academy as it is today is used to show the physical beauty of its setting and the importance of its location. "The songs and music used in the film are the USMA BAND and the USMA Glee Club. "In its 178th year cadet life at the 'Point' goes on amidst the timeless setting of the Hudson River Highlands."--1981 Peabody Awards entry form.
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Producing Organization: Hudson River Film Company
Producing Organization: KERA
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The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia
Identifier: cpb-aacip-42536a1eafe (Filename)
Format: U-matic
Duration: 0:53:00
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Chicago: “World Exchange; No Excuse, Sir,” 1981-08-14, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 8, 2023,
MLA: “World Exchange; No Excuse, Sir.” 1981-08-14. The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 8, 2023. <>.
APA: World Exchange; No Excuse, Sir. Boston, MA: The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from