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Public Affairs : 2013 Pershing Essay Awards

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Class of 2013 Cadets Victoria Emerson, Sebastian Smoak, Thomas Ankenbauer and Kathyrn Leonard pose with retired Lt. Gen. John Cushman, after receiving their awards at the 7th annual General of the Armies John J. Pershing Reflective Essay Awards ceremony April 12.

Class of 2013 contemplates USMA experience in writing


Story and photo by Kathy Eastwood

Staff Writer

WEST POINT, N.Y. (April 18, 2013) — The 7th annual General of the Armies John J. Pershing Reflective Essay Awards ceremony for Class of 2013 cadets taking the MX400 Officership Capstone course offered through the Simon Center for the Professional Military Ethic took place April 12 at the West Point Club. Retired Lt. Gen. John Cushman, Class of 1944 graduate and first captain, was the guest speaker.

Cushman and Anne Cabaniss, widow of Cushman’s friend and classmate, Jelks H. Cabaniss Jr., made a proposal for the Association of Graduates board of directors to establish the John J. Pershing Writing Award Endowment in 2006. There are three awards presented at the event. Thirty-two company level bronze recipients, four regimental recipients and one gold recipient.

This year, Class of 2013 Cadet Thomas Ankenbauer, Company A-3, received both the silver and gold awards.

“My advice to you,” Cushman said, “from your earliest command, establish your standards high. Don’t settle for less. When faced with a situation, take all the time available to think about it, ponder it, be curious and seek the views of other people.”

Other Silver award recipients were Class of 2013 Cadets Kathryn Leonard, Sebastian Smoak and Victoria Emerson.

The conclusion of Ankenbauer’s essay was read to the audience.

“My decision in high school to attend the U.S. Military Academy was motivated out of an idealistic sense of patriotism,” he wrote. “But my decision to stay here is motivated by my brothers and sisters on either side of me, and those serving half way around the world in remote alphas and foxholes. We look forward with hopeful eyes to the day when we depart the shores of the Hudson and finally take our place in the Long Gray Line. We begin our journey leading America’s sons and daughters in the defense of our nation.”