Thursday, May 31, 2007


So, I’m finally getting around to writing the graduation post…sorry it’s taken so long. I’ve been traveling and only now came upon some time. I have, in the interim, been trying to think of a way to explain all that was going through my head over the last few days. You see, graduation was so much, so fast, and meant so much, I don’t think I can do it justice. Instead, I’ll try and share a couple of moments with you all that I had not considered before I experienced the last week of my life, things that, when told, may give some backstage insight into what graduation is like.

Before the ceremony, about three hours early, the first class marches up to the stadium to the holding area. It is there that we all get in line to march in. We had all gone out the night before to the Firstie Club or out with our families and had to finish cleaning our rooms also. We had each slept maybe three or four hours the night before and, as soon as we got to the holding area, all the work we had put into perfecting our uniforms (shoes shined, brass spotless and pants pressed and dressed off) went down the drain as we all fell asleep either individually or in groups.

You know the picture of cadets throwing their hats in the air? The one right after graduation, when the First Captain says, “Class Dismissed!”? Well, I had seen that picture for years, hate in the air, arms akimbo, smiles and cheers, and that was where the moment stopped. I threw my hat in the air (a new hat…I wanted to keep my old one. As a side note, a lot of the hats left on the ground that children pick up to keep as souvenirs are brand new.) I looked up jubilantly only to find that the moment doesn’t end there, hats in the air. You see, gravity continues, the hats come tumbling back down and you have to duck your head and cover so as not to be hit by falling hats—something I hadn’t anticipated.

After the hats, we all hugged and cried and laughed and tried to find our families. This is where a second aspect of graduation I had never thought of came into play. We wear brass plates on our chest (as seen in the pictures), and, when you hug one another, there is the sound of brass on brass and the backings kind of poke into your chest. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s a physical feeling that I hadn’t anticipated either.

All things considered, it was the best day of my life and I will never forget it. I would tell you all about everything that was said and done, but I cannot…just know that, for once, I have accomplished something I am genuinely proud of, and I’m excited to move onto the next phase of my life—Platoon Leader! That’s right ladies and gentlemen, in a few short months, I will be in charge of people. I have to say, if there were a time to enlist, it would be now because you will then be under the leadership of the class of 2007.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Lieutenant Harmon!

I graduated. There is so much to write about it, but I don't have time right now. I am on day three of my trip to Texas. When I get to Kristies, probably day after tomorrow, I will write more, post more pictures, and let you all know how it went. Until then, enjoy this picture of me and Chris, The Ethics Boys, wearing the sweet black and gold glasses my cousin sent me.

Friday, May 25, 2007

10 hours...

The plebes just yelled out their windows, "There are, Ten Hours until graduation and graduation leave for the class of 2007!"

Ten hours and I am no longer defined by what has defined me for the past five years. In ten hours, I assume responsability...not just for myself, but for others. In ten hours, the sacrifice of everyone who wore grey before me becomes an ideal that my actions have the ability effect positively or negatively and everything I do will be taken as indicative of all West Point grads.

I can't believe I am actually graduating.

This is all tempered by the fact that one of my best friends is not...but ten hours...I am.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

One Day More...

All that's left of my 47 month experience is one parade, one banquet, one hat toss and a bar pinning and I will be Second Lieutenant Harmon...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Grad Week...

Grad week has begun and the slow uphill battle that is graduation, like slow ticking of a roller coaster up the last crest, is over. I am now, my friends, on the fast and furious downhill thrill ride portion. Begining yesterday, my mom, Aunt and Uncle came to West Point. My mother for the third time (Mother's Day Yuk year and Ring Weekend this year), and my Aunt and Uncle for the first time.

I took them on the tour (Cullem, Grant, Thayer and Ike Halls) yesterday and today, we toured the cemetery and the chapels. I saw this fountain (which I had seen before) but read the inscription below. It is really a beautiful place durring the day, haunted by the stories and lives of those who lived and are now burried there, but each stone representing someone who died in the faith his/her life was lived and sacrificed for something bigger than themselves. The fountain below was erected for the son-in-law of a graduate. It has pillars of granite (the stone of choice for West Point) from each of the quarries in NY, which is why they are differently colored.

Today was the Alumni Review. It was the first parade my mom was able to see (and obviously the same for my Aunt and Uncle). The parade is really a sight. The grads
from the fifty year cohort class (1957) and older parade across diagonal walk. There were grads from 57, 37 even 32 there. My family met a really nice man from 52 who we talked to for a while. He told us about his experience in Korea and a little about Cadet Shea (now known for Shea stadium named after him). I suddenly realized that he was part of what I'd studied in Military Art that semester--not an idea, or a textbook or anything less real than the little old, happy man before me. How amazing that I had that brief time with him...

We also had my final Glee Club concert tonight marking the last time I would ever sing with such a good chorus. You see, many people sing in chamber choirs, or church choirs or other groups, but there is really no civic or religious group I am involved with which will afford me such an opportunity. I tried not to tear up as we sang the Armed Forced Medley, where people who have served stand as their respective service songs are sung. I can never help myself from seeing a hole where my father should be standing. Afterwards, it feel to me this time to introduce the song Mansions of the Lord, recorded for the movie We Were Soldiers. They had asked the Cadet Glee Club to record it for the movie and it has since become a tradition to dedicate it to soldiers who have given their lives when we sing it. We have sung it for Old Grads, Cadets and others who are involved, but tonight, they allowed me to dedicate it to my father.

I was only able to get halfway through the dedication before I was too teary eyed to speak coherently, but the Club sounded amazing as they sang it, and I could see how moved my sister, mom and Aunt and Uncle were--that was a memory I will never forget and I have the Glee Club to thank for it.
Afterwards, we took a mother/son picture with Jim, my old roomate, and AJ, a friend from Glee Club. The lighting is odd, but the Army jerseys in the background are cool...not to mention, having our mothers there always make a son's heart proud.

The Dean was there, and he knew me by my first name. As I was walking out, a gentleman who I assume was an old grad (based upon the blue blazer w/ class lapel crest) stopped me and shook my hand. He said, "Congratulations Adam." and it was apparent I did not recognize him. He got a bit of a sly grin and said, "It's OK, you don't know me, but I've read your blog..." I was a bit shaken at first and immediately tried to recall if there was anything I'd written that I shouldn't have. He congratulated me on the concert and reassured me that that was not the case and moved on. It was an odd moment really, surreal, but nice. While I started this blog to keep in touch with a small group of friends, the idea that other people may read what I write is...I don't know what the word is, but, it's interesting.

In any case, the bottom of my roller coaster is fast approaching and soon, I'll have thrown my hat in the air, put on Army Green and driven away from West Point for the last time as a cadet. Accepting the fact that things change, that I grow, and that I must move on is something new to me, but, something I think I'm getting better at.

In any case, enough with me being sappy. If you're in SD June 23, let me know. I should be having a killer graduation party at the old Fallbrook Harmon Manor!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Plebe Year...

I'm killing time because I don't much feel like packing by doing something I've been intending to do for a long time. I figured doing a full four year re-cap would take entirely too long, so I intend on doing four one year re-caps, starting with plebe year. I will share with you all the good, the bad and the ugly--basically, the things I remember most about each year. While I intend to do four, it's all time dependant, so, there's a possibility part one (Plebe year) will be the only part.

Plebe year started with Beast barracks. I had some good kids in my platoon, most notably Duester, Klerekoper, Bidder and Jensen. Koper, unfortunately, left the academy later that year for medical reasons. Beast was relatively uneventful and not all that was more annoying that hard, and I think I wrote some decent letters home. My mom used to send me art-cards of paintings because I told her how bland and grey everything was. I still have one she sent me taped to the inside of my trunk, which I used to keep propped open showing one Georgia O'Keefe painting. It was mostly white with five or six tiny red water-colored flowers.
About five weeks into Beast, I got the letter that my Uncle Z had died in a boating accident (while fishing, his boat went over a falls and capsized and he drowned). That news hit me pretty hard. My Uncle Z was someone I had only met twice but immediately fell in love with. He was from Tennessee and was the first person to let me fish, shoot a gun and throw ninja stars. He came to our house nine or ten years later with my Aunt Janet and I can't think of anyone who was prouder of me for going into the Army. He had been a Marine recruiter and I remember walking in on him and my dad talking about how proud they were of me. What an odd thing to think about now, as they are both gone...
Which brings me to the next thing I remember. School started uneventfully and my father got sicker. I went home for a month and came back knowing he was going to die. When I did come home, he passed away on Plebe Parent Weekend, Oct 11, 2003. Everyone had their parents here and I didn't really participate in much of the festivities. My friend TR invited me out with his family who were amazing. They took me to dinner and didn't mind my being reclusive. His mom, for the next four years, would send me packages every time she sent TR one.
Plebe year wasn't all death and sadness. One of my fondest memories was when the D4 Dukes went into the Dean's office and filled it with newspapers. We filled it so high that the dean, a tall man, was covered past his head in newspaper. We took pictures in his office, feet up on his desk, drinking coffee out of his mugs, and sent them to him. The next morning I awoke to photos of him in my inbox smiling from the piles of paper with the note, "Good job Dukes! Beat the Dean!"
That was the night I met Pat too. Pat has been, and is, one of my best friends. He, Davey and I studied together for our history TEE. We studied for two or three days, sleeping together, eating together and studying together. We filled the walls (painted with high gloss paint and perfect for dry erase markers) with the history of the world and learned it all. I went into the TEE more confident than I have been for any TEE since. Pat was fond of saying that we would get each other through the academy and I was fond of brushing his optimism off. Now, we're actually graduating--and we did it together.
We took a Glee Club trip to California that year for Spring Break. My friend Trever Long stayed with me the whole time. In LA, we actually stayed in San Diego where Tanner took us flying, and then went to Reno. We didn't stay in Reno, we stayed further away in Nickle City, then to Sacramento. Again, Trever and I didn't stay in Sacramento, we stayed three hours away in Lodi California...miserable. After that, however, we were in SF where, instead of staying with my sister who has having some issues at home, we stayed in a hotel and my mom gave us her car. We stocked the liquor cabinet and went out every night. It was a good time and the last time I'd really have the opportunity to hang out with Trevor who would later be kicked out on honor.
Second semester, I lived with James, another of the best friends I'll know. He and I bonded over music as we both like anything that is good, regardless of genre. We would clean our room for one of the multiple SAMI's we had that semester listening to Tupac and Alabama.
There are more things to share, about tests and people and places and things, but what I just wrote about are really the things that stick out in my memory the most. Feel free to share anything I've forgotten or didn't have time to write in the comments if so care.


As I near the I've finished my college undergraduate education, I come away with more questions than when I came in. I hate to say I'm becoming more conservative, but that is a distinct possibility, but only in some ways. I question now, much more than I did before I started, what it is that the government should do and what it is I should expect from the government. What are my rights, and what are our collective rights? What is it the government is authorized to do and what is it the government should not do? There are certain things that, while it may feel good to say the government should do (and many people would expect the government to do) simply isn't, Constitutionally, in the government's mandate.

If that is the case, how do I square what I think, morally, should happen, with what I believe legally should happen, and, which takes precedence? I would like to say morally, but, if my moral conviction trumps Constitutional mandate, why not other peoples moral convictions? If I am willing to bend the rules to suit my own beliefs (which I am not) then what would stop others from doing the same? Just the fact I trust my own morality more?

I realize this is vague, but I don't really know specifics (if I did, they wouldn't be questions) and, I'm writing this after three hours of sleep...

Five and a butt days...

Until I graduate...

I'm so excited/nervous/happy/sad that I feel like a kid the night before Christmas, but it's still five days away. I couldn't sleep last night. I stayed awake thinking of everything I have to get done still, everything I'm doing aftewards, the fact my mom is going to be here in a matter of hours that I didn't fall asleep until 2 AM. Then, I woke up at five without being able to fall asleep again...just like a kid who wakes up knowing there are presents under the tree and I wanted to run through the hallways saying, "Santa came, Santa came!" but, instead of Santa with presents, it will be Dick Cheney with my diploma!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Last Weekend...

I have known Troy and Koz for five years now. Troy lived down the hall from me and was roomates with two of the wierdest kids I've ever known while we were at the Prep School at Monmouth NJ. Koz was also prior service and had some odd roomates. I taught Troy how to shine his shoes and he told me about being a boy scout.

Troy and I were roomates for most of our prep school year, and Koz was the unofficial third (along with Woodie, who was our fourth). Koz, Troy, Woodie and I would eat at hibachi (with bring your own wine...twist off tops and all), Olive Garden and elsewhere. After prep, we all came to USMA. Woodie got separated medically, went to Virginia Tech, went to Japan for a year and is now in Michigan. Troy, Koz and I were split between different companies.

We've stayed friends and actually grown closer instead of further apart. Troy (the Texan), Koz (the asshole) and me...alternately the liberal, commie, hippie, Californian, Jew, Mexican, Filipino, Brownie or whatever else they feel like calling me. It's strange to think that in a week, we wont be together in the same place again for a damn long time.

To spend our last weekend together, we all went to a Red Sox game in Boston along with Troy's girlfriend and two other cadets. My mom always used to tell me never to buy souvenierres. Either they'd break, or you'd lose them, but, if you bought good food, you'd always remember it. That is what I did. Below is a picture of me eating delicious Ciappino and wearing a bib.
Here is a picture of Koz me and Troy at the Red Sox game wearing our new hip Red Sox hats.

From there, we went to a cabin in the Catskills. It was a genuine log cabin with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. More importantly, there was both a kitchen and a barbecue. We made brautwurst, cheeseburgers, surf and turf shiskabobs (pictured prominently below), omlettes and various dips. We also bought fourteen bottles of wine and two bottles of champaigne (to make mimosas with and toast to our last weekend).

There was a river behind the cabin which four of us (not including myself, as I was out on a wine run) braved. The canoe tipped and they all ended up in the was cold, just to let you all know.
The last morning, we all layed out on the balcony enjoying the sun as we waiting for the last load of laundry to dry before driving back to West Point for the last time. It struck me as we came through the gate that it was the last time I'd ever return on a Sunday. used to bother me coming back, and now, I already miss it.

Red Sox game...

I went to a baseball game at Fenway Park this weekend. It was a lot of fun, and, it was the begining of the last weekend Troy, Koz, Kels and I will spend together. Troy and Koz and I have been together for five years now...crazy. I'll get to that later though.

Baseball...I've been to games at Dodger Stadium (but don't remember that one all too well) Yankee Stadium and Petco Park before, and, in all honesty, didn't enjoy them all that much. The stadiums were loud and obnoxious and the baseball seemed secondary to everything else going on. Petco Park is cool because it's very, for lack of a better term, San Diego and I guess the same can be said for Yankee Stadium (very New York). If that's true for all baseball stadiums, I can see why I liked Fenway Park so much.

The whole city is into the baseball game. From the minute we drove in, people were wearing baseball caps, jerseys, sweatshirts and anything else that had Boston written on it. As you can see, I bought a hat to fit in. The stadium feels smaller than Yankee Stadium, but I don't know if that's just illussion. There is only one digital screen and from one half of the stadium, you can't see it. To keep score, show stats and otherwise inform the crowd, it's still done old school style with a dude in back putting up numbers on the back wall.

I don't think I've ever enjoyed a game so much. We sang Sweet Caroline, Take Me Out to the Ballgame and yelled at the other team. There was a pickle between third and home and we drank beer and hooted and yelled. It's odd really...I know nothing about baseball, but by the end of the game, I was genuinely involved and wanted to see the Red Sox win. I guess you could say that, if I had "a team" they would now be it. Cool...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Plastic Spoon Clothing...

OK, so my little sister (in the grey below) seems to get progressively cooler and cooler. She has started making and selling designer joke! Below are some pics of sleeveless hoodies lined and backed in complimentary colors. Oh can get one too if you send her some cash. Check out more stuff on her myspace and support Plastic Spoon Clothing! Below is her mission statement (of sorts).
When I was a kid my dream job was to be a trash man. My thought was you would have first dibs on all the treasures everyone else thought was trash. When I was a teenager my brother used to give me his old clothes. Which at this time in his life was thrift store bought polyester bell bottoms. I used to make skirts and shirts out of them that my peers couldn't appreciate. I wake up thinking about how to create a hoodie/jacket/dress/garment in a new way with a new function. I go to sleep excited to wake up and sew again. And so you have it, after years of being scared people might laugh I decided "screw it, I'm just going to do it". THAN PLASTIC SPOON CLOTHING EXISTED! I spend as much time on a garment as it takes until my heart is proud of it, because thats the only way I know you will love it as much as I do. So wether your just watching to see what is created or are interested in purchasing one let me know what you think :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Movin on up...

I helped my friend move out today. It is strange, leaving. I'm begining to realize that who I have been for the last five years--a cadet--is suddenly, in ten days, not going to be who I am am longer. It's a strange feeling when your identity changes.

Moving out is strange in itself. I remember moving in. The rooms were empty, the surroundings were new and unusual. There were lots of bags (blue, green, brown mesh, white mesh, yellow mesh) none of which I knew the purpose of but now seem so obvious. There were more things with my name on it than I think I'd ever seen before (stamps, name tapes, name tags, t-shirts and pants) and rules that were strange even to someone who had been in the army like myself (where to walk, how to hold your hands, awkward hanger spacing that was unlike anything I'd learned in the Army). I didn't mind, and it all seemed like an adventure, and I knew--or hoped--it all had a purpose. I hoped that in four years, I would be ready to be an officer, that I would be as smart, as fit, as in charge and self-confident and self-aware as MAJ Outzen, the officer who inspired me to come here.

Four years later, I'm moving out. I'm packing my bags, taking my final tests and saying my last goodbyes to people I've lived with and gone through some of the hardest times of my life with (both here, West Point difficulties, and at home, the family difficulties my friends here have helped me through).

The thing about gaining knowledge or experience is that, once you've gained it, you just know how much more you don't know. I'm sure I'm more competent than when I came, and I'm sure I'm more confident and knowledgable (for anyone who knows me, fitness, unfortunately, is where I've failed)...but, I can't help but walk away thinking, "so...that was it?" Which isn't to say it was easy, or not worth it, because it was. But I'm sure most of you know the same feeling. Difficult tasks, once accomplished, don't seem nearly as difficult. Likewise, once you've grown, all you can really see is how much further you have to go still.

Friday, May 11, 2007


So, what do I do now that I'm done with school? I spent a couple of hours shaving and shaping my beret and putting together my Class A's. Then Kevin and I made asses of ourselves like we'd borrowed them from our dads to play dress up. Ha ha, I still can't believe I'm going to get commissioned. That's insanity! Last time I put together my A's (not at the prep school, which didn't count) was for the inspection CPT Soldon gave me when he gave me my nomination here. I was nervous as could be...

Now, I'm on the way to being a CPT myself's just crazy.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Tribeca Film Festival...

I went to the Tribeca Film Festival this weekend. This was easily my favorite of the four films we saw (why are some "movies" and some "films"?) It is a documentary about the Darfur Crisis told from the point of view of an ex-Marine CPT who was there for quite some time. He and his sister are now activists trying to spur interest and action in the region.
After the movie, the Producers, the brother and sister, and some of the other people who worked on the film were on hand to answer questions. (Q&A sessions are odd when not done at West, when we ask questions from the audience, we stand up, introduce ourselves, use Sir or Ma'am, and ask our question. At Tribeca, you just sat there and kind of...yelled your question from your seat. It almost felt interregatory, if that's a word).

There were one or two good questions, such as, Why Darfur? What's the difference between getting us to intervene there, or in Chad, or The Congo, or Iraq...why focus on Darfur? Another question I thought was good was, considering soverignty, and the US involvement, for good or ill in Iraq, what can we do?

They had good answers to most of the questions and I came away feeling better off for having seen the movie. One of the reviews I read of the film after it showed at Sundance was, I thought, right on point:
I know this review has focused more on Steidle, his character, his mission and the facts of the Sudan crisis than on the film itself -- primarily because the film itself simply 'presents' Steidle and his character and mission and the facts. The aesthetic arguments against the film I heard in the post-movie chatter of the exit lobby -- it's too long, it's depressing, some of the structure was off -- must, and do, take a backseat to the moral argument presented in it. It's not enough to simply say "never again" to genocide when it is happening over and over and over right now. The Devil Came on Horseback hurts the heart and stirs the soul, because even as I write this, even as you read this, even while this film is perhaps finding its way to a distributor and wending its way slowly to theaters, the killing in the Sudan will go on, and on, and on until someone in power decides that it must stop or until there is no one left to kill.

Here are some links I reccomend you all click to read about the issue and maybe even (for the billionth time I've asked now...) write a letter:

Sosh Mafia...

We like to joke in the Social Sciences department that we are a mafia. You see...we study the way the world runs, and quite a few of our teachers go on to run the world. For example, Thursday night, I went to West Points annual Donor Appreciation Dinner where anyone who donated over 100k has a nice dinner and drinks. The keynote speaker was Medal of Honor recipient COL (R) Jack Jacobs, who was also a Sosh P here in another incarnation. He is now an endowed chair for a Media class.

He talked about his time as a P when he and the other Captains and Majors would "mess around" with cadets...tripping them in the hall or on their way back to the barracks and how he enjoyed talking about politics over a game of poker with them on Friday nights. It was when he told us the "them" that I was really taken aback, however. You see, the "them" he was talking about were Lieutenant General McCaffrey, now Adjunct Professor at USMA, Lieutenant General Daniel Christman, prior Superintendant, and General Wesley Clark, who I'm sure you know.

I imagined the three of them, some twenty or thirty years ago, all young Captains, just out of command, sitting around reading my papers and playing cards. I was joking with a friend of mine the other day that if they'd just get rid of the whole Constitution and let a group of Sosh P's run the country by committe we'd all be better off. Of course I was speaking tongue in cheeck, but looking around, there are Professors here now that I can see someday not only being General Officers, but Cabinet positions or other decision makers (my current National Security Seminar Professor comes to mind as someone who, were she not in uniform, would be at the White House today).

Another interesting thing in looking at the list above is that all of the gentlement COL Jacobs mentioned have not been silent or in the shadows since their respective retirements. Almost all of them have had opinions to share about Iraq, the current administration, don't ask/don't tell, and other issues facing the military today. I guess, if the tagline of the history department is "Most of the History we teach was made by the people we taught," then Sosh's should be "Most of the theory we teach is executed by the people we taught." Sure, it doesn't have the same ring...but from what it's pretty true.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


yep kids...I got an A- on my last paper at West Point. Friggen sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet. If you ever need to know anything about Operation Restore Hope in Somalia, I can give you an A- answer now.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

small world...

Tonight, at the Firstie Club, a group of graduates having a reuinion sponsored the beer. Yes, free beer, all night. I sat down with some friends who were (along with myself), retiring our positions. A nice old grad sat down with us in a herringbone suit and a combover which had since fallen from over to the side. He was very nice and began with the usual old grad banter...graduation, position, came back to teach etc. But, as the conversation went on, he grew more and more interesting...

After volunteering to go to Vietnam, he found himself in the battallion of an officer who had been his Regimental Commander at West Point when he was a plebe. Small world. He told us about separating his soldiers into three shifts...drinkers, pot heads and the sober ones. Drinkers worked mornings (while they were hungover, they would at least work) sober kids worked nights, pot smokers evenings.

From Vietnam, he went back to the states where he taught Econ and American Politics here (go Sosh Mafia!) at West Point. From WP, he went to Iran where he was a military attache. His boss there was his old English Professor here, at West Point...small world. He was there when the Embassy was overrun and escaped out the back gate. I didn't quite figure out how he got back to the states, but, he did.

He met his wife after that. On their first date, the car went off the road, she broke her leg and the car caught on fire. He pulled her out and went back to get her purse. Her father was the Dean of Annapolis. Small world...