I took an unexpected break from the blog last week, spending my "blog night" preparing remarks for the retirement of a Coast Guardsman who served as my facility engineer at the Coast Guard Academy. He asked me to be his guest speaker, and I enjoyed seeing old friends, and making sure CDR Scott Gesele retired with the same respect, dignity, and professionalism with which he served.
From there, Betsy and I drove north to see all three of our grandchildren, and celebrate my daughter's birthday, taking time on Sunday for a "good old fashioned" Easter egg hunt, which appeared much more competitive than I remember as a child. It brought great joy to have a special time with John Thomas, Emily Grace, and James Scott, looking into their eyes and reminding them how blessed they are to be loved by so many.
We've seen every kind of weather this week...rain, sun, spring warmth, and freezing cold...but the campus is transforming...and giving us glimpses of how beautiful it will be by the May Board of Trustee meetings and Alumni Weekend. We are looking forward to celebrating Honorary Alumni Awards, a Distinguished Alumnus, and the 50th reunion for the Class of 1964. It will be an exciting weekend...action packed.
Of course this is Easter [leave] weekend, a special time of renewal and rebirth...a time to reflect on the essence of Christianity...and the hope, grace, and forgiveness we can learn from a life well lived. Many look forward to spending time with family, and only a small percentage of our cadets [who live too far away] will remain on campus.
This morning at Chapel, Josh Davis, an Olympic swimmer who won three gold medals for the USA in 1996 and two silver medals in 2000, gave a very personal and powerful message to all of us about faith and making good choices. He said that a good coach or mentor believes in you, encourages you, and gives you truth. They give you skill, motivation, and love...
What I most enjoyed was his definition of freedom. He said that many believe freedom is the ability to do whatever you want, with whoever you want, when you want; yet he defined true freedom as the ability to do the right thing whenever you want regardless of what anyone else is doing around you.
His message was filled with energy, passion, and terrific advice on allowing God to be our coach, and he encouraged us to heed the advice provided in scripture. This way we can live our lives with true freedom...free from the many worldly influences that block us from reaching our full potential. More information about Josh Davis can be found at http://www.joshdavis.com/.
Earlier this week we were visited by two members from the Charles B. Keesee Educational Fund, which was established in 1941 by Mr. and Mrs. Charles B. Keesee of Martinsville, Virginia, for the purpose of aiding worthy men and women to obtain an education. The Board's generosity has allowed over twenty cadets to receive scholarships of between $2,500 and $5,000. We enjoy our relationship and having their board members visit to learn more about Fork Union Military Academy.
We spoke at length about the school's past and its future, attended Tuesday's Chapel service, enjoyed a delicious lunch (with two cadets) at Careby Hall, then they had a cadet-led tour, and I answered some final questions. The visit provided direct interaction with three of the scholarship recipients, and put a face on their gift of education. It was clear that we share a passion for open access to quality private education, and an interest in providing values-based education that builds character in tomorrow's leaders.
I was encouraged that over 60 cadets plan to attend our annual Military Ball on April 26th. With dates, there will be over 120 young people attending, all in their most formal attire. This year the event will return to Thomas Gym with a live professional DJ (an alumnus) and the seniors will attend free, thanks to a productive cadet-led Social Center enterprise that sold popcorn, treats, and soft drinks throughout the school year. The seniors will enter through a traditional arch of sabres.
This year we will be starting a new tradition. On May 7th we've invited all the seniors and postgraduates to wear a shirt that represents the college they've chosen to attend. There is still debate on whether the staff should join in by wearing shirts representing their alma mater, but this day will be another incentive for our underclassmen to achieve their goal of college acceptance at the school of their dreams (or their budget). There are some special colors I'll be looking for...but any color representing college acceptance will be cherished.
Last weekend we hosted Eddie George as the Annual Gus Lacy Track Meet guest of honor. It is always wonderful to have him back on campus...and from the pictures on social media, it looked like cadets and competitors alike welcomed him with enthusiasm. Eddie George is also the newest member of our Board of Trustees, and we look forward to having him be an important force in the future of Fork Union Military Academy.
That same Saturday FUMA won 1st place in the High School Division at our Annual Chess Open. Cadet Kang was our leader with 3 out of 4 wins. Please see the picture below:
One of my highlights this week was not my annual physical, but was an interview by the 7th grade Drama Class. They asked me several questions while being videotaped. The questions ranged from "Why did you join the Coast Guard?" to "If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would it be?" to "Who had the most influence on your life?"
Someday we may publish the entire interview, but I'll close by answering the "influence" question. I answered that it was my mother. She taught me to work hard, be nice to those around me, and she prepared me for independence. I learned today that my mother also taught me to be free.
Only 122 days until Cadet Officers report for the 2014-2015 Academy Year, 134 days until classes begin, and 36 days to this year's Upper School Commencement, and 34 days to the MS graduation.