It's true we never know how someone else perceives our actions. Sometimes we can have a great effect on someone's life without ever recognizing it ourselves.
I have read stories that get passed around on the web about things like this, without ever knowing if they are true or not. You can believe me when I say this one is true. I am sure that other former cadet officers have had similar comments made about and to them later in life from their former underclassmen.
A letter I received from a former LWMA cadet back in November of 1999 it will accompany these thoughts. But, generally, this story has to do with how upperclassmen are perceived by the younger cadets.
I know my first year at LWMA I had nothing but great respect for the cadet officers at LWMA. I believe from what I have read on the message board that that would be true for most the "new" cadets starting at LWMA in the 6th, 7th and, as I did in the 8th grade. Maybe that is true for the 9th grade as well. I know that at first anyone I had to salute seemed like an adult to me. By the end of my first year, that may not have been true for all the cadet officers I knew. But, I always did, and still do, feel great respect for Cecil Harris who was our one and only Cadet Captain in the 1959-60 school year. We had only one company on the campus and this was Capt. Harris' second year as the Cadet Corps Commander. That fact was even more reason to be in awe of him.
As I grew in age and moved through high school and the ranks at LWMA I never thought much of how I might be seen by the underclassmen. I remember always trying to do the right thing, but not too much about setting an example for the younger guys. But, I really had to be on my toes when I was in Captain Wayne Betts' 9th grade English class my senior year. (See the my story about Capt. O. P. Lee) One of those 9th graders in that class is the reason for this story.
The following note was a surprise that came to me in the mail after I wrote Major Roy Berwick ('64) whom had just become the President of Millersburg Military Academy in Millersburg Kentucky. In the past I had at times seen Major Berwick's name in our school paper as he assumed different jobs at different military schools around the country. I had for years meant write him a letter and congratulate him on these positions as he took them. Well, I finally did write to him when he took over as the President of Millersburg Military Academy in Millersburg Kentucky.
Roy had been in "B" Company when I commanded it at the start of the 1963-64 school year. He was one of the "new" 9th grade cadets that year. A lot of things happened during that time: some that I am proud of, and many that I'm not so proud of. But I was a Cadet Captain and I was the highest-ranking cadet living in Friendly Hall just as Cecil Harris had been four years before. I don't think I ever thought of myself as ever being on his level, even later when I took command of the cadet corps as the "Acting Battalion Commander" for one month during the second semester in 1964.
Anyway, Mayor Berwick's reply to my note of congratulations came in a small card with a drawing of his school on the front.
Millersburg Military Academy
7 November 1999
3701 Macedonia Rd.
Powder Springs, GA 30127
Thanks for the letter. It is always nice to be remembered - especially by someone you admired and respected. You were my cadet company commander during my first semester at LWMA. I needed the time you spent with me.
Military School (LWMA and GCMA*) changed my life. It took an underachiever and made him an overachiever. I (will) always regret not completing High School at LWMA, but teenage desire overrode good sense. Yet, it was my three years at military schools that set the tone for me for the rest of my life. You were a major part of that.
This is my third military school position. I have been Senior Army ROTC Instructor and Commandant at two other military schools. This is my first headmaster position - it will not be my last. I would love to work at LWMA in some capacity if things would permit it. Col. Hovey and I have become pretty good friends over the last nine years. I became associated with military schools during my Pentagon days when I regulated Army ROTC on the Army Staff.
You have a standing invitation to visit the smallest military school in the nation, one that I have had a major hand in bringing back from the grave.
Please, keep in touch. I will.
Roy W. Berwick
Millersburg Military Academy
P.O. Box 278
Millersburg, Kentucky 40348
*Gulf Coast Military Academy
Note: Roy's one and only year at LWMA was 1963-64.
So, let this stand as a notice to the current cadets of LWMA: To you underclassmen, especially the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th graders, you will be members of the Senior class one day and assume positions in the officer corps. Believe it, or not! And to the officers in the corps now, you never know who is watching you and looking up to you. Try to deserve the respect you get. Try to emulate the one cadet officer you admired the most when you were an underclassman. Maybe someday you will get a letter or a phone call from someone who admired you. It is a nice feeling, even if you feel it may be undeserved as in my case.
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