ESPN, Obama and West Point

My photo of cadet Andrew Maisano on ESPN.com

First let me show off my newly-published photos on ESPN.com from this week. As you may have heard, Army shocked defending national champion and No. 2 Syracuse last weekend in the NCAA lacrosse tournament.

That nice little win helped get me some play on ESPN.com, first with Dana O’Neill’s column about the upset, and also on Kyle Harrison’s review of the tourney today.

I also got a photo of academic All-American Andy Maisano on the homepage for lacrosse on ESPN (pictured above, right).

Moving on, Saturday promises to be an incredible day as I have amazing opportunity to photograph President Barack Obama and the graduating Corps of Cadets during the U.S. Military Academy’s graduation ceremony in West Point. Covering an Obama speech is something I always wanted to do but never got a chance during the 2008 campaign season, so tomorrow should be a great setting. The ceremony is set for 930 a.m. in Michie Stadium, which will be slightly more crowded than it was for my last visit (a men’s lacrosse game).

Let me go off topic from the usual for a moment. One thing that is not at all cool: the Journal News reported today that anti-war protesters will be organizing in Rockland and then staging a protest rally on Main Street in West Point tomorrow. People who know me know I’ve been against these wars for a long time, especially the mess in Iraq, but this is not the appropriate venue to be slamming the military or the President. How incredibly disrespectful is that to these fine cadets and their families, to have to see these folks on such a proud day?

A man at an anti-war protest in Nanuet, Dec. 2006. (Photo by Danny Wild)

I’ve photographed these anti-war rallies before in Rockland, and in fact, I share many of their views — we should be out of Iraq. I’d like to see an end to the ongoing mess in Afghanistan. Obama has set withdrawal dates for both Iraq and Afghanistan.

But I think the main point is this: celebrating someone’s graduation should not be unfairly attached to someone else’s personal political opinions about a war that none of these cadets, nor the current President, started. There should be an ongoing public conversation about our role in these wars, but setting up camp with disrespectful signs outside the West Point gate is wrong, and it damages the credibility of these people, who, in reality, want to bring our military members home safely.

You can absolutely show your support for our military and the great people who fight for our nation without condoning political decisions of foreign occupations.

I remember last fall being stunned when I drove through West Point to a football game and saw people holding signs mocking the Academy and “Go Army” athletics banners because of the war. West Point did not start these wars. Go stand in front of the Bush ranch in Texas if you want to get your message in the right direction.

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