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Public Affairs : 100th Night

100th Night celebrates countdown for Class of 2013
 
Story and photos by Mike Strasser
Assistant Editor
 
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Feb. 28, 2013) — It was a celebration and a countdown for the Class of 2013 as cadets and guests gathered Feb. 23 at Washington Hall for the 100th Night banquet.
 
Class of 2013 Cadet Timothy Berry, the class committee president, called it a memorable occasion and congratulated his classmates on this well-deserved achievement.
 
“Let these last 90 days remind us all of the call to service that will unite us as a class forever,” he said.
 
Class of 2013 Cadet Edward McBride described it as seeing “the light at the end of the tunnel.”
 
“For the firsties, 100th Night is a milestone because you leave behind the triple digits and enter into double digits,” McBride said. “It’s also bittersweet because this is our last class weekend.”
 
Gen. Carter F. Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command, expressed gratitude for the invitation to speak to the Class of 2013. He said it was appropriate to reflect not only on where the class is headed after graduation, but to also remember how they got there and the people who shared that journey.
 
After proving they were worthy of being West Point cadets, the journey will soon begin anew, Ham said, and they must prove themselves worthy of leading Soldiers as Army officers. He noted how this class has distinguished itself with academic All-Americans, national championship athletes, scholars and linguists.
 
“Don’t worry. You’re ready,” Ham said. “You will do yourselves, your class, West Point, your families, our Army and nation very proud.”
 
Ham said good officers must be masters of their craft who take the pledge to become lifelong learners. He advised the Class of 2013 to steel themselves for the challenges and tests that await them.
 
“As officers you will be entrusted with our sons and daughters—our most valuable resource,” Ham said. “Be the type of leader you would like your children to have. Remember that officers are always leaders. There is not an on-duty and off-duty. You are always on duty.”
 
The 100th Night Show
 
The evening’s entertainment at Eisenhower Hall Theatre was the traditional 100th Night Show. A talented cast and crew presented the Class of 2013 and its guests with a satirical retrospective of the 47-month experience at the U.S. Military Academy. The full-length musical comedy titled “Ted” centered on the commandant of cadets and his quest to fix the Class of 2013 of all its deficiencies.
 
“The show is all about summing up the four years of our West Point experience into a comical production,” McBride, one of the soundboard operators at the performance, said.
 
The academy provided a target-rich environment for parody and practically no one or nothing went unscathed. Among those lampooned were the commandant, the brigade tactical officer, the Department of Physical Education, the entire plebe class and even the Long Gray Line.
 
“They always agree, after some script reading, to being poked fun at,” McBride said of the senior leaders. “It’s kind of a chance for the class to reminisce in the most comical way.”
 
The 100th Night Show dates back as early as 1871 when skits were presented by the graduating class.
 
It evolved into musical comedies a few decades later, written, directed and performed by senior cadets.
 
A cadet cannot endure the rigors of West Point without a sense of humor, McBride said.
 
“A sense of humor is paramount to surviving here,” McBride said. “The institution intentionally puts so much stress on you that you need to find time to laugh. This show looks back at some of the hard times and allows everyone to sit back and get a laugh out of it.”
 
A photo gallery of the 100th Night Banquet and Show is available at www.flickr.com/photos/west_point/sets/72157632871984991/with/8514086258/​.
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Gen. Carter F. Ham, U.S. Army Africa Command, was guest speaker for the Class of 2013's 100th Night Banquet Feb. 23 at the Cadet Mess.

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Class of 2013 Cadet Jon Hatch portrays the commandant of cadets during the 100th Night Show at Eisenhower Hall Theatre Feb. 23. The play, “Ted: A Class and its Dream,” was directed by Class of 2013 Cadet Sebastian Smoak, produced by Class of 2013 Cadet Christopher Telle and written by Class of 2013 Cadets Shane Greaves, Collin Hennessy, Katherine Houle, KT Leonard and Gregory Trahan.

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Class of 2013 Cadet John Asback sings about the trials and tribulations of summer training during the 100th Night Show Feb. 23 at Eisenhower Hall Theatre.
 
HISTORY OF THE 100TH NIGHT SHOW

The 100th Night Show had its humble beginning in the form of a collection of skits, presented by the First Class in 1871. The "Nineteenth Century Brevities," as it was called, was presented in the Mess Hall, and resembled an English recitation more than anything else.

That changed in 1902, when the show found itself a stage in Cullum Hall. The next year, the Class of 1903 presented the first full-length musical comedy, "The Caprices of Cupid" as its 100th Night Show.

Ever since, the 100th Night Show has been a musical comedy. The show has been housed in Cullum Hall and South Auditorium (now Robinson Auditorium) before finally resting in Eisenhower Hall Theatre.

The show itself is a humorous look at the life of a class throughout its four years at West Point. With that said, it is important to keep in mind that the intent of the show and the cadets involved is to lightheartedly poke fun at West Point, its cultural idiosyncrasies, and various events, circumstances and even people that have shaped our class.

Most of it is based in truth, some exaggerated, and all of it offered in the name of humor and entertainment. While West Point tends to be a rather stoic place, the beauty of this show is that it serves as a reminder of the importance of laughter in order that we not take ourselves too seriously.

— Excerpts from the Class of 2013's 100th Night Show program