Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | June 7, 2017

45 WTH?

Graduation, United States Military Academy – West Point – June 7th, 1972

I graduated 45 years ago.  WTH?  (As the Germans say, “In former times”, I’d use other acronyms!)

Huh?  How’d that happen?

Time is baffling to my mind.  I can’t believe that number.  45.  WTH!

If I think about all of life since graduation, well then okay sure, it’s been a long time.  Lots of stuff happened.  I’m not going to get into my usual introspection (actually used that word for pieces I wrote for The Pointer when I was Managing Editor – see below!), philosophy, navel gazing and history nerdism.  This is all pure raw emotion.  WTH.

I take the officer commissioning oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, from my Daddy, Regular Army LTC (RET), Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army. Honored to do so. Never taken one step back since.

Graduation was the 2nd happiest day of my life.  Number one was birth of first child.   And, yes, I told my late wife and other kids this.  Many other wonderful times in life.  But, this was stellar.   I hated being at West Point as an inmate.  Loved teaching there later!   I stayed to graduate just because I knew I’d always wonder “what if”, didn’t want to quit or leave my band of brothers classmates, and knew better to go to Vietnam to fight as an infantry officer.   The later didn’t happen – war called off during Winter Ranger.

Here is what I said then. (Pic on my phone is clear.  Dunno why this copy is so bad.)

1972 Graduation issue, The Pointer Magazine.

I’d write it differently now.  Less self-conscious youthful cynicism, but have the same passion about living and doing.  Now, I’m able to speak to the humbling honor of being allowed to serve Duty, Honor, Country with a happy heart and every ounce of being.   And, personally, I’d add so much more about family and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Family there, then.  L-R. Mother Edith, Sister Susan, JAB, Uncle Stanley (34 Inf Div, WW II), Grandmother Lillian Susan, Father Albert.

So, here I am 45 years later.  WTH.  It’s just weird.  I know I am not the same physically.  Got it.  But I feel the same.  I feel as alive and even up for a good fight as I did then.  I’m excited about living life although I’m keenly aware of my mortality.  Attended 3 funerals in the past 3 months and no weddings.

Saying you graduated 45 years ago makes you older than dirt.  WTH.  But, at this short end of life’s candle, I feel just about the same as I did – not kidding –  when I was at the youthful long end – and not knowing how much candle was ahead and what would be there in the burning wick.  WTH?  I’m grateful to God that “I ain’t dead yet” for whatever I’m supposed to do.  Read and write.  Be Daddy and Papa.  Be a husband again.   Make my classmates laugh.  For however long or short I’m to do it.

Just a few days ago next to a Sequoia tree actually older than me.

I look forward to all the laughing with my buds and their wives at our 45th Class Reunion.  I just can’t believe it’s really 45.  WTH!

Proud and True, ’72


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