(House of Representatives - March 11, 2019)

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[Pages H2631-H2635]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of 
January 3, 2019, the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Shimkus) is 
recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the minority leader.
  Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, I am happy to be joined by my colleagues 
who graduated from West Point, our alma mater, and our colleague, who 
represents the West Point community and the area.
  Why are we talking about the academy today? Well, we are close to 
what we call our Founders Day, which is March 17, but this is also a 
special year. It is the 150th anniversary of the Association of 
Graduates, which keeps the alumni informed and connected with our alma 
  The 150th anniversary will be May 22, 2019, so we thought we would 
come down to the floor to talk about the experience and the importance 
of the military academies--of course, West Point being the oldest and 
the best--to our Nation and its security.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from New York (Mr. Sean Patrick 
Maloney), from Hudson Valley, who represents West Point and the 
surrounding communities.
  Mr. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY of New York. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to 
commemorate the 150th anniversary of the West Point Association of 
  Mr. Speaker, I am proud to represent the cadets, faculty, Active Duty 
soldiers, and the many alumni of the United States military academy at 
West Point in New York's Hudson Valley. In fact, I live right across 
the river, and I hear the cannon every morning and every night. It is a 
wonderful way to wake up and go to bed.
  Just take a few steps on the grounds at West Point and it will be 
clear to you that West Point is much more than a school. It is a 
community of devotion made up of the best and brightest of our Nation's 
past, our Nation's present, and our Nation's future.
  Think of the legends and heroes who have graduated from West Point. 
Such a pantheon clearly deserves more than a run-of-the-mill alumni 
association. Accordingly, the West Point Association of Graduates has 
fulfilled that need. It goes above and beyond, and it deserves the 
recognition we are giving it tonight.
  I want to thank my friend, the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Shimkus), 
a member of the association himself, for leading this Special Order to 
honor the organization for the services and fellowship opportunities it 
provides to graduates of all ages.
  Our country's premier military academy has produced generations of 
leaders in all fields, including 2 U.S. Presidents, 18 astronauts, 19 
Rhodes scholars, 76 Medal of Honor winners, and countless numbers of 
the Fortune 500 CEO's list, Cabinet secretaries, Governors, Senators, 
and, for those who didn't do very well, Members of Congress.
  These men and women are connected by ``The Long Grey Line,'' the 
affectionate reference to the unique ties that bind all graduates. They 
are linked by their commitment to living and, at times, even dying in 
service of the motto ``Duty, Honor, Country.''
  But they are also connected through the tireless work of an exemplary 
alumni association. For 150 years, the West Point Association of 
Graduates has fostered these connections by allowing generations of 
graduates to grip hands with one another.
  In some ways, the association is like other alumni associations, but 
like all things West Point, it is much more. The association provides 
mentorship and fellowship for younger alums, but often these alums are 
also returning veterans who need a hand when they come back.
  It supports local chapters across the country and around the world. 
But for a group as far-flung as West Point grads, these connections 
give graduates a sense of community when they are far from home.
  It also helps graduates who have been hurt by hurricanes, tornadoes, 
fires, and other natural disasters.
  And it even offers a professional memorial services coordinator to 
help grieving families navigate the funeral process at West Point when 
that difficult time arrives.
  These are the kind of people who make up The Long Grey Line in the 
West Point Association of Graduates. They are fiercely committed to our 
country and to each other.
  During times of division, West Point graduates still rally around 
their shared values and experiences to build bridges and remind all of 
us what it is to be an American.
  Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the West Point Association of Graduates 
for 150 years of connecting distinguished alumni and providing a 
helping hand to folks in need. I thank them for their service, and here 
is to another 150 years.
  Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for doing that great 
summation, because I brought my colleagues down here and they are 
probably going to talk a little bit more about the micro aspects of 
classes, friends, and experiences over the years. But I do appreciate 
the gentleman's work for and support of West Point and the community. 
And I know he will always be a good steward of the campus, the cadets, 
the staff, and the faculty, so I thank him for coming down.
  Mr. Speaker, usually, we manage things here in the House by seniority 
based upon, again, elected Congress. But at West Point, it is a very 
competitive institution, and our seniority is based upon the graduation 
class. So I am going to turn things upside down here on the floor and 
go by seniority, which means one of our newly elected Members of 
Congress will get a chance to speak first.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. Green).
  Mr. GREEN of Tennessee. Mr. Speaker, in 1781, General George 
Washington called the fortifications at West Point the most important 
post in America. Holding West Point meant preventing the British from 
dividing the Nation along the Hudson River Valley.
  Following the war, President Washington made numerous efforts to 
create a military academy. His actual first effort was within a year of 
becoming the Commander in Chief. However, it fell to Thomas Jefferson 
to get it done and, in 1802, the United States Military Academy at West 
Point was founded as the Nation's school to teach the art and science 
of warfare.
  Since its inception, West Point graduates have served to preserve our 
Nation's freedom in battle. From the Mexican wars to the war on terror, 
West Point graduates have sacrificed their lives and their youth to win 
our Nation's wars.
  Off the battlefield, West Point graduates have served at the very 
highest levels of the U.S. military as legislators, Cabinet 
secretaries, Governors, Presidents, and CEOs leading the development of 
our Nation's infrastructure and the establishment of the world's 
greatest economy.

                              {time}  1945

  For young people who choose West Point over a traditional education, 
it is truly a different path.
  From the moment you start in Beast Barracks, a cadet lives by the 
code of conduct of the military officer, recognizing that their life 
becomes second to the safety of Americans.
  Almost 100 West Point graduates have given their lives in this most 
recent war. It is that commitment to the Nation made at such a young 
age that makes the place so special.
  What sets West Point as an institution apart is just about everything 
that happens there: the grueling academics; the compulsory 
participation in sports; the military drill; the military training; and 
perhaps most noteworthy, the leadership and character development. West 
Point even uses our math classes to teach cadets how to present 
themselves and to hone their military bearing.
  But for me, what took my experience at West Point to the next level 
were the men and women who made up my class, the class of 1986.
  Our motto is ``Courage Never Quits, '86.''
  We came to West Point from all over the country, men and women from 
every State, nearly every religion,

[[Page H2632]]

every ethnic origin; and we came together as one team fighting to get 
through the Academy's rigorous education. Almost one-third who started 
our class left before graduating.
  Over the years, we celebrated together, served in the Army together. 
Many left the military to serve elsewhere in government and business. 
But each of us has tried to live by that motto, ``Courage Never 
Quits,'' and boy, have we.
  Our class has produced 18 general officers: four 3-star generals; we 
have no 4-stars yet because we haven't been out of the Academy long 
enough; in addition, we have nine 2-stars and six 1-star generals.
  Our class produced a Secretary of State, a Secretary of the Army. Two 
of us have served in Congress, one of whom went on to be the Director 
of the CIA and, of course, Secretary of State.
  We have had at least two State legislators. Three judges come from 
our ranks, as well as at least four deans and chancellors of 
  We have served at senior levels throughout the government, from the 
Department of State to the FBI, to the leadership of the Defense 
Logistics Agency, to consultants to Presidents of the United States.
  Twenty-two-plus members of my class are presidents and CEOs of major 
corporations, from 7-Eleven to Mercedes-Benz USA.
  And, yes, we, too, have had those in our ranks make the ultimate 
sacrifice for our freedom. Be thou at peace.
  More than anything, more than just the amazing location on the Hudson 
River, more than the unparalleled history of the place, more than the 
grueling academics, more than its unbelievable place in our Nation's 
great story, what pushes me to serve is the knowledge of what my peers 
have accomplished. Their hard work reminds me to never stop reading, 
learning, growing, and serving. They are my motivation, and they are 
why I will never quit.
  Rangers Lead The Way.
  Night Stalkers Don't Quit.
  Courage Never Quits, '86.
  Go Army. Beat Navy.
  Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague, and I appreciate his 
service in uniform and, of course, here on the floor. We are happy to 
have him here.
  Next, I yield to the gentleman from Kentucky (Mr. Guthrie), almost my 
neighbor on the North American continent.
  Mr. GUTHRIE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
  Mr. Speaker, my motto as the class of '87: Our Country We Strengthen, 
  It is great to be here, and I want to start with a story.
  After I went through the Academy, graduated from West Point, spent 
time in the 101st Airborne Division, I decided to do something 
different with my life and went into business. I went to business 
school. I was in New England in business school.
  One time, I was driving back from a visit to Franklin Roosevelt's 
home on the Hudson River and was at a grocery store--Stew Leonard's, 
some people know from Danbury, Connecticut. I was standing outside with 
a kid, and a guy walks by, and he says: Well, Kentucky plates. What are 
you doing here in Connecticut?
  I said: Well, I am up here in graduate school, and we just went to 
Franklin Roosevelt's home. I just love the Hudson River. The Hudson 
Valley is just stunningly beautiful.
  The guy looked at me. He didn't know my background, didn't know who I 
was. So he said: Well, if you love the Hudson River, let me suggest you 
ought to spend a weekend at West Point. Let me suggest you go on 
Saturday, on a football Saturday, because you are not going to believe 
this, but they actually go to class on Saturday.
  I said: Are you kidding me? I mean, people actually go to a school 
that goes to class on Saturday?
  And he said: Yeah. And then they have a parade, and all the cadets 
are standing--and I didn't have the heart to tell them, tell him we 
were telling jokes to each other, and said--look pristine, you know, 
from 100 yards away.
  But he went through the day at West Point, and he walked through it. 
And he said a picnic and tailgating and football, and all the great 
stuff and the fun times you have here. But you do have good times even 
though you have very difficult times.
  And when he finally finished, I didn't have the heart to tell him the 
truth and tell him the story. So as soon as he finished, I just looked 
at him and said: I have always heard about West Point, and I have 
always heard this: ``It is a great place to visit, but you wouldn't 
want to live there.''
  And the reason that you wouldn't want to live there is because it is 
tough. It is hard. It is not something you can do just simply. It is 
something you sacrifice for and you move towards.

  One of my great thrills is you get to nominate people who attend our 
academies--all of our academies--and to call them and tell them when 
they have received an appointment.
  I just talked to a young man this week, he is going to West Point, 
and a couple, unfortunately, to the Navy--but a couple at West Point 
and a couple at the Air Force Academy. They are deciding to do 
something big and different with their lives than their classmates.
  But I want to talk about, just real briefly, you do run across some 
great people.
  I always say the reason that H. R. McMaster was probably, I think, 
the greatest soldier of our generation is his very first challenge was 
teaching me how to march correctly. He was my squad leader at Beast 
Barracks, and I was a challenge to him, I am sure, so his first 
leadership challenge.
  We heard my previous speaker talk about his classmates, Mark Esper, 
who was in my company and now Secretary of the Army; got to serve on 
Energy and Commerce with Mike Pompeo, now Secretary of State.
  My class actually entered West Point in 1983, so I got my appointment 
in February of '83. In March of '83, Ronald Reagan gave his speech in 
Orlando, Florida, about the evil empire, and then during my time in the 
101st, the Berlin Wall came down. So I literally served from the evil 
empire to the fall of the Berlin Wall.
  A lot of my classmates--me being one of them, and this shows what a 
great prognosticator I am--and all of us thought the Army was going to 
be boring for the next 20 years. And, man, my prayers that that was 
absolutely--would have come true, but it wasn't.
  So my commemoration today is a lot of my classmates did leave the 
Army in the early nineties. Those who spent time in a career--whether 
20 years, 30 years, some still serving--they really have sacrificed for 
this country more than I could ever imagine.
  My one experience with it as a Member of Congress--not as a combat 
soldier, but a Member of Congress--I took my first trip into a combat 
zone to Iraq. I remember sitting in the headquarters waiting for 
General Barbero to come give us a briefing, and an '06 colonel comes 
walking in. Some of us may know because he did congressional affairs 
after this.
  It was Joe Simonelli, who was a big, blustery, great guy who served, 
just kind of a leader of our class. And he comes walking in, and it 
just struck me that he has been doing this for the last--then it would 
have been the last almost 20 years, spending half of his life going 
overseas to serve our country. I was just there for a day and a half 
and was ready to get home, and he was there for a year. It just struck 
  So my hat is off to my classmates--and not to just people who 
graduated from West Point, but every man and woman who has the courage 
and the conviction and the strength and everything about them to put on 
our uniform. And every single one of them, every single person serving 
in our uniform volunteered to do so. It is just amazing that we have 
young men and women like that.
  So my hat is off for my classmates because we are talking about our 
time at West Point, those who served 20 and 30 years, who have made a 
difference for this country and have sacrificed like no other has over 
the course of time.
  We have, certainly, people in more combat-type style conflicts, but I 
would dare say, in the history of our country, a group of people who 
graduated the time that we have have not spent more time in active 
combat back and forth.
  Mr. Speaker, my hat is off to them. They are my brothers and sisters. 
I love them dearly, and I appreciate their service.

[[Page H2633]]


  Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comments.
  I think what Congressman Guthrie has said, article II of the 
Association of Graduates Constitution, states the object of this 
association shall be to cherish the memories of our alma mater and to 
promote the social intercourse and fraternal fellowship of its 
graduates, and I think we are seeing that tonight.
  You see some snickering and some guffawing, and I think we all get 
transported back in time. In fact, in preparing for this, I did like 
Congressman Green and got a list of my classmates and then started 
working on notes on Friday night and Saturday. I am telling you, I had 
nightmares on Saturday night; I had nightmares on Sunday because that 
experience was brought back to life for me, which I cherished.
  I am now happy to yield to the gentleman from Ohio, Congressman 
  Before I turn it all over to him, one of the benefits that the 
academies do, and West Point does, is just doesn't get what they 
consider the brightest and the best in our secondary education system, 
but they make sure that they reach into our active military forces and 
find those young men and women who are showing to their chain of 
command exceptional opportunity with a chance to promote and become an 
officer. Congressman Davidson is one of those, and that is why I yield 
to him, the class of '95.
  Mr. DAVIDSON. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I 
thank this body for the opportunity to recognize our alma mater and our 
Association of Graduates at the United States Military Academy at West 
  As Mr. Shimkus was highlighting, I didn't come the easy way. As a 
friend of mine likes to say, sometimes God will bring you the easiest 
way you will go.
  For me, my journey to West Point started in my high school guidance 
counselor's classroom in September of senior year. Most people realize 
that is kind of a late start for the path that it takes to go to one of 
our Nation's service academies.
  And then she asked me what I wanted to do, And I said: Well, I want 
to be an Army ranger.
  She said: Well, you know, you are pretty smart. You should go to 
college. You should consider college, at least.

  I said: Well, you know, I thought about going to West Point. Then I 
could be in the Army and go to college.
  She looked at me like she felt sorry for me. She said: Well, baby, 
that is not going to happen.
  That wasn't mean; it was realistic. I had not done the work that it 
would take to get there.
  She walked me through who normally gets in: The salutatorians, the 
valedictorians, the people with the high GPAs while being captain of 
sports, Eagle Scouts, and what not. I recognized some of my classmates 
who had been on that path, and I recognized that that is not the path 
that I had been on. No one in my family on my dad's side had gone to 
  So she told me: You should work on some other plans.
  So I did them. I enlisted in the Army. And when I got to the Army, 
thankfully, some of Brett Guthrie's classmates, 1987 graduates Larry 
Bradley and Terry Finley, were platoon leaders.
  Larry Bradley ended up being my platoon leader for a composite 
platoon that got training by the 10th Special Forces Group down in Bad 
Tolz, Germany. And it was there, during that platoon, that I learned 
that the Berlin Wall had come down, that it wasn't part of the 
training, it wasn't just a jazzy intro to a speech.
  Some noncommissioned officers stepped up and said: Write this day 
down. It is going to be one of the most famous days in history, 9 
November 1989.
  We thought: Bold intro.
  But from that, I had a chance to do something unbelievable that was 
the culmination not just of graduates of the United States Military 
Academy, but the culmination of people who had fought to win that war. 
So many of them West Point graduates, like Eisenhower, like Bradley, 
like Patton, who helped liberate a people in that continent.
  But I got to see the culmination of that as the wall came down not 
because Mr. Gorbachev tore it down or Mr. Reagan tore it down, but 
because the East German people found out what was on the other side of 
it, and they tore their own wall down. And they found out that the 
fruits of our ideology had produced shockingly different results than 
what their ideology had produced.

                              {time}  2000

  It is shocking today to think that we might relive some of those bad 
choices that led to poverty and scarcity on the other side of the wall 
while our ideas led to abundance and flourishing, not perfectly, but 
far superior.
  From there, I went to the prep school, and I met classmates like 
Ranger Bill Lynn. His first unit deployment led him to jump into 
Panama, and he had a combat jump there. I met classmates at the prep 
school who didn't make it to West Point. Indeed, one of my 1995 
classmates is currently the commandant of the United States Military 
Academy Preparatory School.
  It is a great path, but I also met people who had not been in the 
Army. I met people who had come there to increase the diversity 
objectives of the Military Academy, who needed a little more strength 
on their academics or maybe who needed to balance the academics with 
the athletics that they were going to be able to participate in. That 
was about half the class.
  I learned about a special club at West Point shortly after I came 
called the Two-Percent Club, and I met my wife. The Two-Percent Club, 
for those who don't know, are those who start with a girlfriend and 
graduate with the same girlfriend and end up marrying that girl. I am 
thankful today that I am married to my Lisa. People would talk about 
Lisa this, and Lisa that, but I would always refer to my Lisa, the girl 
who chose to marry me.
  We experienced cadet life in a different way. We have all these 
memories of things like the cadet in the red sash stepping up to the 
line, but not on the line or over the line. We remember things like 
Beast Barracks in Buckner, Boodlers runs, spinning the spurs. We 
remember the honor code and the character that was so prominently 
featured there, that, ``A cadet will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor 
tolerate those who do.''
  We remember how hard it was to live with the consequences for people 
who made those bad decisions, who you knew to be good people, who came 
to be separated because it was taken very seriously there.
  We saw in the cadet parades that we talked about on the parade fields 
The Long Gray Line for the ceremonies where they would lay a wreath for 
Founders Day at the statue of Colonel Sylvanus Thayer. You would see 
men and women in uniform, but you would see senior citizens at the 
front of the line.
  The oldest graduate would lay the wreath--often in a wheelchair, 
feebly mustering every ounce of strength necessary sometimes to move 
from that chair to lay that wreath with pride at the statue in front of 
the sup's house.
  We remember the million-dollar view at Trophy Point, and we remember 
the quarter-million-dollar education one nickel at a time as we 
  We remember friends and classmates who helped us through the hard 
times. We remember the knowledge like duty, honor, country, or 
Schofield's Definition of Discipline.
  We remember the seriousness with which nearly every one of us took 
the opportunity to be prepared, should the case arise that we would 
lead our Nation's young men and women in combat, that we would be ready 
to face the challenge. Many of my classmates did that.
  I served 5 years in great units, the Old Guard, the 101st Airborne 
Division, and the 75th Ranger Regiment. I left Active Duty, which 
shocked many of my classmates, and I found a great sense of purpose, 
that to give a lifetime of service to the Nation didn't always mean in 
uniform. But you still look in awe at the sacrifice that so many have 
made who continued on in Active Duty, especially those who gave the 
last full measure to keep our Nation free and to bring honor to The 
Long Gray Line.
  Today, as I look at young men and women and have the privilege of 
calling them and congratulating them on all of the work that it takes 
to do it--generally, the right way--the advanced

[[Page H2634]]

knowledge and the preparation--the more common way--the disciplined 
path that started earlier in life, I am encouraged because there are so 
many talented young men and women who still want to put on our Nation's 
uniform to make sure that our Nation is made and kept free with an all-
volunteer force committed to serve our country.
  I look at The Long Gray Line today, a line that is a very tight-knit 
alumni organization where friends could be distant for years, even 
decades, and, in a moment, connect as if you just finished playing 
spades with one another after hours, ditching the late-lights 
  I look forward to those times. I cherish those memories. And I am so 
thankful to the West Point Association of Graduates, which has set a 
great example of how to bond classmates together to serve the cause and 
interest of our great alma mater so that this Long Gray Line may 
continue to flourish always.
  Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for joining us 
tonight. He makes me think of a lot of things.
  I want to make sure that we don't forget the staff and faculty, the 
Department of Army civilians, and the spouses and the families who make 
up the whole West Point experience.
  A lot of times, staff and faculty will adopt a cadet to be their 
family while they are away. I am from Illinois, and New York was a 
pretty long distance. I was fortunate to be, in essence, adopted by 
Colonel Woodard and Mary Ellen Woodard. They were my pseudo family 
there, and, boy, did I need it. That was kind of joked about.
  I also remember going and visiting many times instructors after hours 
on a program we called additional instruction. I thought I was smart in 
high school. I found out in college-level engineering school, I wasn't 
as smart as I thought I was. I needed a lot of assistance to get 
through the academic program there, so I appreciated it.
  Many of those staff and faculty teachers were West Point graduates, 
so they not only had the book learning, but they knew the experience we 
were all going through.
  I brought down my yearbook and paged through it. General Omar Bradley 
attended our graduation, which shows you the length, depth, and width 
of The Long Gray Line. It was a special time to be able to see that 

  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Kansas (Mr. Watkins), our 
most junior graduate--maybe we would call him a plebe in our lexicon--
but a freshman Member of Congress.
  Mr. WATKINS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
  Duty, honor, country. The United States possesses the greatest 
military in the history of mankind, and it isn't even close. How is 
that possible since, through the ages, warfare changes, our enemies 
change, the geography changes, the ideology that we are up against 
  I would contest that the reason we consistently win our Nation's wars 
is because our greatest attribute never does change. Those are the 
values that we hold dear. It is the leadership principles that every 
graduate of the United States Military Academy learns.
  How on Earth could that be encapsulated? The best I could hope for is 
to call on General MacArthur, who in 1962, to the United States Corps 
of Cadets, said: ``Duty, honor, country: Those three hallowed words 
reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will 
be. They are your rallying point to build courage when courage seems to 
fail, to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith, to 
create hope when hope becomes forlorn.''
  The United States Military Academy has a sacred place in my heart, to 
the class of 1999, with duty in mind. I want to thank God for West 
Point. I want to thank The Long Gray Line. And God bless you USMA, my 
rockbound highland home.
  Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for joining us 
  We have people who watch and participate in the Army-Navy games. 
There is now a new kind of challenge for either the midshipmen or the 
Corps of Cadets, and it is a fight to see who sings second. If you 
watch the Army-Navy game, at the end, after a tremendous battle on the 
field of friendly strife, both sides will join together on each side, 
and they will listen as the alma maters are sung. The goal is to be the 
one who gets to sing second, because that means that you have won the 
football game.
  I would like to read the alma mater of West Point.

     Hail, Alma Mater dear,
     To us be ever near.
     Help us thy motto bear
     Through all the years.
     Let Duty be well performed.
     Honor be e'er untarned
     Country be ever armed.
     West Point, by thee.
     Guide us, thine own, aright
     Teach us by day, by night,
     To keep thine honor bright,
     For thee to fight.
     When we depart from thee,
     Serving on land or sea,
     May we stand loyal be,
     West Point, to thee
     And when our work is done,
     Our course on earth is run,
     May it be said, ``Well done''
     Be thou at peace.''
     E'er may that line of gray
     Increase from day to day
     Live, serve, and die, we pray,
     West Point, for thee.

  I want to talk about my class, the class of 1980, a little bit. They 
are now mostly part of that Long Gray Line. We have some still on 
Active Duty, but they are leaving soon, and they have served faithfully 
over the years.
  Folks will recognize some of these names. Our motto was ``Pride and 
Excellence.'' These are the statistics I got from AOG. We all know that 
there is garbage in, garbage out, so some of my classmates are not 
updating their records. They may not be 100 percent accurate, but the 
numbers are pretty good.
  We graduated with 902. We think there are 23 who are deceased.
  We graduated 62 women. These are the pioneers. This is the first 
class of women who graduated from West Point. They are very close. I 
talk with many of them frequently, and we are all very proud of them. 
It was not easy for these women, as you can imagine, in an all-male 
institution, and they are a tribute to our class.
  We have four four-star generals or officers. Two recently retired, 
Brooks and Perkins. We still have Thomas, who is the commander of 
Special Operations Command, and Votel, who is commander at CENTCOM. 
They are both retiring soon.
  We had six lieutenant generals, Donohue, Cheek, Hodges, Lanza, 
Chipman, and Linnington, and they are retired.
  We had eight major generals and nine brigadier generals, the one 
stars. I want to note Brigadier General Retired Anne MacDonald who, for 
our women classmates, rose to the highest ranks of military service.
  We have religious leaders in our class, pastors, chaplains, deacons. 
One that I like to always catch up with and follow is Nancy Gucwa, who 
is a Benedictine Sister, Nancy Rose Gucwa, who retired as lieutenant 
colonel and then became a nun.

                              {time}  2015

  We have medical doctors, and we have university professors. I would 
also like to highlight Jeff Williams, our astronaut who has spent more 
time in space as a guide of the United States NASA program. Now there 
is a female astronaut who just surpassed him, but he has been in space 
quite a bit, and we are very, very proud of him.
  I think what is also interesting is that people talk about the 
military academies and these institutions as the proverbial return on 
investment. I think my colleagues have talked about the selfless 
service of their classmates and the people they have met. I think the 
interesting thing that I came upon in just going over some data from my 
class is we know that every graduate, for the most part, goes to serve 
in Active Duty, and the desire is for a 20-year service at a minimum. 
But a lot of people choose not to do that. I think what surprised me 
was how many people picked up the mantle in other branches of service 
or in the Reserve program. So out of the 902, I think about 422 retired 
from military service, that is getting close to 50 percent.
  What are those?
  That is, obviously, the United States Army, the United States Army 
Reserve, and the United States Army National Guard. We had a couple 
retired from the Air Force, and we had one retire, I think from the 
Coast Guard. So

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selfless service, even as a part-time, and those who follow the 
military today, if you are in the Reserves or you are in the Guard, you 
are working, and you can be deployed. It is not a weekend warrior 
status anymore. They are part of the total military force.
  We also have published authors, college professors, master level, 
world-class athletes, and even an artist. Some of our classmates now 
have their children who are already graduates, who already served their 
time and are already out of the service, so generation after generation 
of families. That is just an example of one of our classes.
  The Association of Graduates does a good job, as was noted here, 
trying to keep us connected to our alma mater. We have folks that come, 
not only from every one of the 50 States based on the way the 
nomination process goes, but we also have folks from foreign countries 
who are invited to serve and go through the program, and that is the 
unity the association of graduates attempts to do.
  So this night was spent to really accomplish two things: one, to 
commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Association of Graduates whose 
goal was to keep these bonds of friendship and keep reminding us of the 
goal of duty, honor, country.
  Another part was to thank our classmates who have served with us, who 
help get us through the 4 years of training in the program, thanks to 
staff and faculty, thanks to the Department of Army Civilians, thanks 
to maintainers to allow us--really we should thank the national 
government for continuing to support the great institutions of higher 
military learning and training like West Point, Annapolis, the Air 
Force Academy, the Merchant Marine Academy, and the Coast Guard 
  I am going to end with the end of the Douglas MacArthur speech. 
Congressman Watkins read the first part. I was going to read that too 
because it is one of my favorites.
  I will end on this, Mr. Speaker. This is the end of the speech 
General Douglas MacArthur gave to the Corps of Cadets: ``But in the 
evening of my memory, always I come back to West Point. Always there 
echoes and re-echoes: Duty, Honor, Country. Today marks my final roll 
call with you, but I want you to know that when I cross the river my 
last conscious thoughts will be of The Corps, and The Corps, and The 
Corps. I bid you farewell.''
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.