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Public Affairs : Celebrating Independence Abroad

Cadets celebrate independence abroad 

By Class of 2015 Cadet Aaron Pell
Contributing Writer
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Oct. 8, 2013) —

July 4th, 1776.
September 16th, 1810.
September 18th, 1810.

Each of these days shares one chief, history-altering characteristic—a country’s independence day.

While the first is easily recognizable, the other two belong to Mexico and to Chile respectively. This year, the U.S. Military Academy sent some of its own cadets to participate as each of these two other countries celebrated their day of independence. Symbolically, the representation of the United States of America and of its military at these events demonstrates a profound respect for what occurred in Mexico and Chile a little over two hundred years ago, but the true value of the exchange is seen in the interactions and lessons learned from the cadets and officers of both countries and many others who participated in the celebrations.

“There were cadets from all of South America…Central America, Canada, France, Spain, and China,” Class of 2015 Cadet Maria Pascual said. “I look around me, and I noticed we’re all going to be future officers in our respective countries.”

The trip to Mexico lasted more than a week as the celebration itself consisted of a week of special activities commemorating not only Mexico’s independence day but also the 100th anniversary of its military.

The 30 cadets in the delegation participated in some sight-seeing and also marched in their grand parade alongside representatives of 16 countries.

“The best part of the trip was the interaction with all the cadets,” Class of 2015 Cadet Valerie Kutsch said.

In Chile, Class of 2015 Cadet Irene Mallet and Aaron Pell, who are in Chile for a semester abroad along with USMA’s faculty representative Lt. Col. Luis Remigio, attended the activities along with cadets from Peru, Paraguay, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador and France.

Led by two Chilean officers and several cadet sponsors, the foreign delegation traveled throughout Santiago and the surrounding area, seeing some of Chile’s most beautiful sites and participating in classic cultural activities like dancing la cueca or drinking terremotos at the fair.
Class of 2015 Cadet Cort Thompson is photographed with a Mexican soldier where he gained new perspective on the military aspect of their country.  Courtesy photo

The weeklong commemoration culminated with the Day of the Glory of the Army in which all branches of the armed forces march in a parade in front of the president and excited civilian onlookers.

“I learned a lot about the Mexican army and [had] some very interesting take-aways,” Class of 2015 Cadet Cort Thompson said.

His comment preceded a list of lessons he gleaned that had ignited both his intellectual curiosity as well as informed his decisions as a future Army officer. In both countries, the USMA cadets interacted with others from armed forces around the world, sharing their own experiences and learning from those of others. They made life-long connections and friendships both personally and professionally that will ultimately serve to deepen the U.S. connection with its allies around the world in the future.

Class of 2015 Cadet Maria Pascal summarized the long-term value of the experience commenting, “Having a drink with them and sharing a meal together I feel goes a long way for the future of this world.”