While the military still is reeling and recovering from the massacre at Fort Hood, my wife, Gena, and I decided to boost the morale of military personnel by visiting the cadets at West Point and the wounded warriors at Brooke Army Medical Center, at Fort Sam Houston. Little did I know that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the shooter at Fort Hood, was hospitalized there.
The day before Veterans Day, we visited West Point. We were amazed by its pristine and picturesque setting, 50 miles north of New York City on the Hudson River. It was also fascinating to learn more about the academy's history. From the day of its founding, March 16, 1802, West Point has produced some of our country's greatest leaders, including Grant and Lee, Pershing and MacArthur, Eisenhower and Patton, Schwarzkopf and Petraeus, etc.
It was inspiring to watch the cadets' unyielding commitment to develop their minds, bodies and spirits. It was also a joy to see this international Corps of Cadets take a little time even to have fun with my tough-guy image and reputation. For example, one of the senior cadets, named Taylor, had a picture of me in a frame but with his name inscribed underneath it. A French cadet with a very heavy accent spoke on behalf of other French comrades and read aloud this Chuck Norris "fact": "When an episode of 'Walker, Texas Ranger' was aired in France, the French surrendered to Chuck Norris just to be on the safe side." He then followed it up by stating, "We'll surrender if you take a photo with me and my fellow French cadets!" Of course, I obliged.
There are few words to express the awe and inspiration Gena and I felt as we spent the day with the cadets at West Point. As I sat speaking to a large group of them for about 45 minutes, I was taken aback by their resoluteness and willingness to grow. Guided by the academy's timeless motto, "Duty, Honor, Country," their passion, discipline and fortitude for building the next generation of leaders was vividly clear and renews my hope for America's future.
We were equally inspired a couple of days later, when we went out to Brooke Army Medical Center to visit with America's wounded warriors. How can one put into words the pride one feels around these brave men and women? Despite the loss of limbs or suffering from some other sacrifice in battle, their resolve and class were off the charts. They were enthusiastic and grateful about our visit, but it was my wife and I who were truly blessed and inspired by them.