Defending the Dream: 2013 West Point graduation


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I had the privilege of photographing my fourth straight West Point graduation on Saturday, which I did in the rain on three hours of sleep. But, as usual, it was worth it: 1,007 cadets were commissioned as 2nd Lieutenants in the U.S. Army after Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, an Army veteran and former senator, addressed the Corps on service, duty and the military’s recent problems with sexual assault.

Below are a sample of my images from the morning — you can see more here on Flickr.

The ceremony begins with the cadets marching in from two corners of Michie Stadium. I knew the Brigade Commander/First Captain, Brandon Whittington, would be coming in from the northeast corner, so I moved over there to get some images of him leading the way. Whittington was the top-ranked in the Corps and also played football at Army:

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As you can see, the 400mm lens just eats up stuff like this:

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Finally, the stage party arrived. First up was Secretary of the Army John McHugh:

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After Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno walked in, Hagel followed:

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I snapped this frame of a cadet praying during the benediction portion of the ceremony, raindrops falling in front of her face:

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Hagel receives his cadet saber:USMA Graduation 2013 481

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Whittington receives his diploma from Hagel — a select group of top-ranked cadets receives their diplomas from him:

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Here’s Garrett Thul, one of the best athletes and lacrosse players at West point in recent years:

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Army football lineman Frank Allen:

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After the cadets walk off the stage, you can literally see the reality hitting them: I did it. Some can’t stop smiling and some try their hardest to hold in the grin:

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The Goat — the lowest-ranked cadet in his class — receives a bag of cash and thus celebrates his distinction:

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Nice moment when the dean’s daughter received her diploma from her father:

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Army basketball’s Ella Ellis:

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Army football captain Nate Combs:USMA Graduation 2013 871

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Army football running back Kelechi Odocha:

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Army running back Malcolm Brown:USMA Graduation 2013 937

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Always smiling, Army defensive back Josh Jackson:USMA Graduation 2013 977

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Army fullback Jared Hassin:

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Finally, the ol’ cap toss, a graduation tradition that began (where else?) at West Point in 1946. First, the cadets took their oath:USMA Graduation 2013 1063

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Then, Whittington stated the class’s motto, Defending the Dream, and dismissed the class of 2013:

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  1. Pingback: Ellerson’s final day: Navy blows away Army, 34-7 – Danny Wild | MLB reporter + photographer

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