Legacy and Honor

Why do you want to attend this institution?

My path to West Point starts out grimly. It was the beginning of a new year, 2013, and I stood gazing at the shining medals on my grandfather’s chest. I stared at the medals intensely, as if I had just been handed a test I knew nothing about. I began to wonder why I couldn't help but stare at them. After all, the medals were not new, nor had they changed from the last time I saw them. It was not until long after the funeral that I realized why they were so captivating; of all the shining objects laid upon his chest, I did not know the meaning of any of them. I knew nothing of their significance or value; they might as well have been clothespins left behind by mistake. It would ultimately be this experience that would impress upon me the lack of appreciation I had had for my grandfather, or his service.

My grandfather served in the Polish Army under communist occupation. He was involved in the underground anti-communist resistance movement in Poland before being recruited by the United States Central Intelligence Agency to serve in the Vietnam War. He then completed many “black ops” missions as an Army sharpshooter in Operation Phoenix. His actions took incredible tolls on his psyche; nevertheless, he emerged an American, having...

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