Welcome to 2021… Well, this will prove to be an “interesting” year. You can read that and let you mind wander around the full totality of the word. The most predictable thing going forward is our lack of predictability.
But there are some constants… and some serious places where we can place our hope.
A year and one-half ago when Sandy and I dropped Chaney off at West Point I commented on the unique “character” of the kids who were soon to be the West Point class of 2023. All of the accolades I gave were, by necessity, fairly one-dimensional since neither of us had a real opportunity to talk with the new cadets beyond general pleasantries at the ice cream social held by the West Point Association of Graduates had arranged the day before R Day, when the Cadet Candidates become officially “New Cadets”. (They don’t officially become Plebes, and thus accepted into the Corps of Cadets, until the culmination of Beast Barracks… a six-week program that is essentially akin to basic training.)
What we saw back then were young civilian men and women who were confident, wickedly smart, and fiercely patriotic… but there was still something… for lack of a better term…”kid-like”…to their countenance and bearing.
During this winter break, a number of Chaney’s friends at West Point chose to further violate Sandy and our Third Amendment rights, and use our home as a forward operating base ostensibly to reconnoiter in potentially enemy territory… or what I suspect was probably a greater motivating factor… get out of the snow in their home states.
During the peak of the occupation we had a total of six young warriors bivouacked in our home: Chaney (obviously), Will from Pennsylvania, Adam from New York City, Sydney from South Carolina, Caleb from Arkansas, and Caleb’s girlfriend Pam, who is in the U.S. Air Force.
The impicture of youth is starting to dissipate. These kids are no longer “kids”. The gravitas is starting to show. But it is a gravitas that is measured with what could only be articulated as extreme politeness, executed without a shred of self-consciousness.
Caleb and Pam had to head back to Arkansas somewhat early (Saturday of last week), and one of our clients, who many of you know, Elena Flyer, insisted that the kids come over to her house for dinner. Ms. Flyer is married to David Flyer, who himself graduated from West Point in 1974. (Once you have graduated from West Point you are subsequently referred to as an “Old Grad” and great deference is granted to you from the Corps of Cadets.)
On Friday of last week Sandy and I had the great pleasure of taking our little platoon over to David and Elena’s and watching the dynamics between these young warriors and those who have gone before them.
(If you have arrived here from our newsletter, continue reading here…)
One of the things that struck me initially with all of the kids was how they addressed Sandy and myself and, subsequently, David and Elena. When each arrived and shook our hands they greeted us by calling us “Mr. Lieberman” and “Mrs. Lieberman”. We quickly offered each permission to simply call us “Steven” and “Sandy”.
As of this writing none have taken us up on that. In all candor, I don’t think I have been referred to as Mr. Lieberman more often during this week than at any other point during my adult life.
The same deference was also given to David and Elena.
Their politeness, their confidence, and their sharp, witty banter between themselves is a welcome respite to the gnawing lack of confidence that many of us have in the direction of our country.
Ronald Reagan had famously said that freedom was only a generation away from being lost. Many of us have seen the ascendency of the beta male and the general lack of ambition among our youth, and we have developed a realistic fear that the security of our country is legitimately in peril.
As we have socialized with these young cadets, I can tell you with extreme pleasure that there are patriots and warriors that our society is still producing. The battlefield of the future is not exclusively brute force upon brute force. The need for stratospheric intellect in our military leaders is needed now more than ever.
These cadets are going to be newly-minted second lieutenants in two and one-half years, and some will be finishing off their careers with stars on their shoulders. I cannot feel prouder and, frankly, more easygoing into 2021 knowing that these kids are, literally, our nation’s future.
As we move tepidly into 2021 let us shake off our negativism and embrace the challenges ahead. The obstacle is the way. Like the cadets we have been hosting, we will become excellent by doing the hard things.