Thomas McInerney LTG USAF (Ret)
Paul E Vallely MG USA (ret)
Andrew P. O’Meara, Jr., Col., USA (Ret.)
West Point Class of 1959
September 11, 2023
The United States Military Academy uniquely reflects American exceptionalism and the principles in the Republic’s founding documents.
We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, endowed by their creator with unalienable rights, and that among these are the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
With these bold words of Thomas Jefferson, America changed the World. The Declaration of Independence was revolutionary. Moreover, the American Revolution was sanctified as the people’s permanent cause. Although the Declaration articulated universally accepted American ideals, the stated goals far exceeded the grasp of the American people when first written in 1776.
With three million black slaves in bondage when Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence, there was no way all men were equals in America. Nevertheless, Americans recognized the principles articulated were just, achievable, and necessary so that God’s will might prevail, and the rights of man might be attained.
By articulating these bold objectives Americans aspired to attain, Jefferson created a conflict between the Colonies and the English Crown by announcing existing political bonds between them were intolerable. Thus, Jefferson told the English Crown that the American Revolution was unavoidable. It was a declaration of war.
Moreover, Jefferson put domestic American society on notice that they, too, were responsible for the establishment of a just society. A righteous people were obligated to abide by God’s will. Thus, the Declaration not only threatened the English Crown but also announced an existential threat to plantation owners whose property – black slaves – was labeled intolerable in a just society. Thus, the Declaration was a precursor of the American Revolution and the Civil War a Century later. The Declaration of Independence’s words named both American colonial status and plantation slavery intolerable, thereby acting as harbingers of two mighty conflicts essential to liberty.
The tensions between America’s goals and contemporary society did not end with slavery. Jefferson’s goals amounted to the attainment of perfection universally. It was a revolutionary contract with America to achieve perfection in our times. And they were permanently applicable goals.
Full equality remained a bold aspiration for suffragettes, who fought until they got the vote. American women went on to challenge a later generation, demanding full equality in the workplace via the Feminist Revolution. The words of the Declaration of Independence encouraged the Civil Rights Movement to fight for full equality. Moreover, the Declaration challenged American public institutions to live up to National equality, liberty, and justice goals.
Thus, it came to pass that Jefferson’s words became an unstated standard of perfection that placed American institutions on notice to become flawless. It was a profound statement of ends that applied to the United States Military Academy as a public institution.
The words of the Declaration became an aspirational standard for the US Military Academy that, as a public trust, was obligated by Jefferson’s goals. The consequences of this have been generations of reforms designed to correct imperfections or lesser standards found to exist at the Military Academy.
The Academy was founded by President Thomas Jefferson in 1802 to provide trained officers to defend the Republic. The stated purpose of the Academy was to provide company-grade officers for the Army. Over time, changes at the Academy have been introduced to eliminate what were seen as flaws or contradictions with the stated national purpose.
Black candidates were admitted to the Academy in 1874. The last class to brace was in 1974 when the Fourth-Class System was abolished. Women were first admitted to the Academy in 1976. Cadets were permitted to select service branches other than the combat arms and the combat service support branches in 1976. (Combat service support branches have long been attractive to minorities who frequently have selected units that helped prepare them for civilian occupations.)
The Honor Code was removed from cadet authority and then allowed to fall into disuse to preclude any suggestions of social discrimination. Civilian faculty were introduced to provide a more liberal academic curriculum, opening the doors to introducing socialist indoctrination. Affirmative Action was adopted to compensate for the perception of privilege. Critical Race Theory (CRT) was adopted to level the playing field and incorporate Marxist ideology into the curriculum of the Academy.
The momentum of change has gradually transformed the Academy into a WOKE model of political correctness. The result has been the transformation of the Military Academy into a typical training facility found in a communist people’s republic.
Graduates of the Academy have watched the transformation of West Point into an institution that no longer performs the functions it was founded to perform. Upon graduation, West Point graduates are no longer ready to serve as platoon leaders in an infantry company. More troubling is that merit has ceased functioning as the foundation of professional competence. All evidence of American exceptionalism has disappeared at the Academy.
Members of the Long Gray Line have protested what appears to be the softening of standards, acceptance of intolerance in the name of equity, and the acceptance of incompetence as the price of Affirmative Action. Letters to the Superintendent have identified problems reported at the Academy, seeking explanations for subpar performance. Regrettably, the leadership of the Academy has not responded to our requests.
Today, the Long Gray Line members find themselves confronted by an Academy crisis that appears to consist of incompetence, lost direction, and failure to meet performance standards if not treason. In many respects, the situation we find ourselves in resembles the period of lost focus, failed academic programs, and leadership problems experienced at the Military Academy following World War I.
World War I created an institutional crisis at the Military Academy. To provide officers to the rapidly expanding Army during the War, long-established Academy standards were discarded, the curriculum was dramatically reduced, and classes graduated early. The result was a loss of institutional memory, standards, and trained cadets, staff, and faculty.
In the crisis, Douglas McArthur was singled out to serve as the Superintendent of the Academy. General McArthur took charge of a broken academic institution. He worked with cadets, staff, and faculty as they gradually introduced reforms and educational programs to reestablish standards, train trainers, and restore discipline. Over time, the changes restored the Academy to its traditional standards of excellence. The Academy went on to provide trained graduates needed to meet the needs of the Army for the remainder of the Twentieth Century.
A Century after General Douglas McArthur returned to the Academy to rebuild an academic institution in crisis and a military academy in shambles, we find conditions like those faced by General McArthur at our Alma Mater. As we commence our rebuilding task, we look around and see General McArthur’s legacy the essence of wisdom, integrity, and leadership needed to accomplish the mission. For this reason, we name our fledgling association of graduates the McArthur Society. May the Lord bless our endeavors with dedication, wisdom, and success.