Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | May 12, 2011

Week at West Point

Trophy Point, West Point, New York looking North up the Hudson

Took a week off to do an extra job.   Taught “Leading in Changing Environments”  to two groups of business people.   The classroom is at the Hotel Thayer at West Point.  So, I was back in my rockbound highland home.  I went to school here and taught here, but have only been back 4 other times – this and another business trip and 2 reunions.   The big 40th reunion is next year.  This was a good, pre-reunion time to look, feel, and think.  I am one of about 30,000 (I think) living Americans with a very, very intense relationship with this place.

I grew up here – at West Point.  Anyone at any college between ages 17 and 21 should grow up there.   And have very intense memories.   The distinction is the 20 years that followed and next 20 years hence.  And the lifelong focus of the passion of ideas that motivate me so now – and likely will until my last breath.

I hated being here as a cadet.  It sucked.  I liked being here as an Assistant Professor.  It was fun.  In both cases, the only reason I did it was – the U.S. Army.  I went here because I knew my Army Officer father would not sign a waiver for me to enlist and I wasn’t going to hide out until I was 18.  Besides, I had read a lot of history and thought the war would go at least 10 years to 1975.  Just didn’t know the U.S. would quit when I was in Ranger School.

My time in the Army in 5 Divisions and my Defense contracting since then – mainly doing Army ‘Futures’, has been doing the best I could.   That’s it.   No holding back.  I’ve had success and failure.  And, the focus never changes.  The focus is the U.S. Army and what the Army means to the United States of America.  Duty, Honor, Country.

Contrary to some of the current promotional material here, I couldn’t care less how many leaders of anything come from West Point.  National service as citizens should be expected.  I want to know how West Point is serving the Army, thus the Nation.  Yet, my caring couldn’t mean less.  I don’t have the stature for my words to carry weight across any public venue.  I just have passion and words.

The Army created the Nation.  It carried the Revolution on its bayonets.  It won the first American Civil War – with a very big assist from France.  The Army continues to serve with the other Armed Forces.  When the U.S. calls, The People answer.   So, the times when American treasure, blood and lives are demanded, should be called sparingly, judiciously, and wisely.

Consequently, we need better representatives.   Servant leaders.   At every level of government.  Politics as a business and career is bad for the Republic.  It has shredded the Constitution.

I don’t know how many more years I have.   And, I don’t know at what point my age alone will make my words worthless to strangers.  So, I’ll just keep on writing as long as I can.  I’ll point my passion to the good purposes I see.   May the Lord give me the bright light to see His Truth.

So, it was refreshing to go to Trophy Point – see picture above – which was my place to seek solace when I was a Cadet – and when I was an Officer.   I used to go there in every season – even the deepest snow.   Just stand and look.   Think and pray.

This morning I felt some reconciliation of my passion to abide more peacefully at my place in life.  Obeying His instructions to ‘read and write’ and, I assume, not seek more.   I may be slow, but I’m making progress to be content with that.   Progress, not perfection.

Still care about the Army.  Can’t do much about it, except provide some words, prayers and good will.  Of course, do the best I can on any contract as long as I work for pay.


Proud and True.  USMA Class of 1972.



  1. […] to teach a class to some mid-level executives.  Planning another trip back down memory lane (see and the 9-11 ten year memorial combined to make me consider the two pieces I wrote after two […]

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