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Through Another Lens

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2013) Permanent link   All Posts
 Stephen Nolan There is a poetry about this place, hidden just beneath its disciplined surface. Its rhythm is that of marching feet and clicking heels. Reveille is her opening line and the late hours after taps, her closing stanza. Her meter is the sounding off days to go, and her spirit is kept alive through sacred tradition. Her tone is kept by the fourth class; changing on a minute-by-minute basis. Poetry is everywhere, from the precise Villanova of drill, to the prose of rocking boats in the waves. From precision to free verse and everything in-between, it all co-exists in this place we, sometimes grudgingly, call home.

I remember quite well the first time I slipped and referred to Chase Hall as home; I was walking back from sailing practice when the words just slipped off my tongue. It was an odd feeling, one that I admittedly fought at first, but which I eventually came to accept. I know that I have stated, repeatedly how much this place can stink, how it can rub a person the wrong way, and how it can slowly drain your energy, how it can make you forget why you came here… but there is a certain beauty about this place, and it is hidden everywhere you look.

I’ve seen some breathtaking sights: the Great Wall of China on a misty summer morning, the desert of New Mexico covered by the first snow of winter, the Chrysler Building on a snowy winter’s eve, St. Peter’s Basilica filled with thousands of devout Catholics, and sunrise atop a mountaintop in Maine. Yet somehow they seem to pale in comparison to the sights I’ve seen here. The Great Wall somehow can’t compare with sight of colors racing up the flagpole, the first snowfall in the desert can’t compare with seeing cadets frolicking on the first snow day of the year, St. Peter’s Basilica somehow fails to inspire as much as a congregation of groggy cadets awaking from their one day of sleep in order to give praise, and the sunrise o’er the mountains is nothing next to seeing it peek over the Thames river on a clear crisp winter morning. I know there is seemingly no logic to this, but I still feel that it’s true. I don’t think I’ve ever been as in love with a place as I am with this Academy.

I can’t quite pinpoint what it is that I love about the Academy; it is simultaneously everything about this place and nothing about it. There are times when I am sure that my affection for these grounds derives from nothing but the deep respect I have for the Coast Guard and all it stands for, and there are other times when I feel as though the only source of my fondness is a deprivation of sorts: even a child’s stick figure drawing begins to look like a Picasso after staring at a blank wall for a long enough time. It’s hard to put into words, though I try my best, the feelings that are generated here.

There is most certainly a poetry about this place, but it is often ignored by those who produce it. The Corps of Cadets is the soul of the Academy, yet they sometimes fail to see the beauty that exists all over the place. It’s an acquired trait, and one that you have to force yourself to want to acquire, because it is one worth having. I feel that if I couldn’t see the good behind it all, I would never be able to do what I have to do every day.

Semper Paratus
4/c Stephen Nolan

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