With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

As 2nd Lt. Alix Schoelcher Idrache stood at attention during the commencement ceremony at West Point, N.Y., he was overcome with emotion. Tears rolled down both cheeks, but his gloved left hand held firm on his white, gold and black “cover,” the dress headgear that Army cadets wear.

He worked his way through one of the nation’s most prestigious military schools after immigrating to the United States from Haiti, earning his citizenship and serving for two years as an enlisted soldier.

“I am humbled and shocked at the same time. Thank you for giving me a shot at the American Dream and may God bless America, the greatest country on earth.”

“I am from Haiti and never did I imagine that such honor would be one day bestowed on me.

“Knowing that one day I will be a pilot is humbling beyond words,” Idrache wrote. “I could not help but be flooded with emotions knowing that I will be leading these men and women who are willing to give their all to preserve what we value as the American way of life. To me, that is the greatest honor. Once again, thank you.”

Idrache was a leader in his class of 950 cadets. He was named a regimental commander last summer. He became West Point’s top graduate in physics.

Idrache’s father, Dieujuste, immigrated to America and was able to bring the rest of his family with him in 2009, one year before an earthquake leveled much of Port-au-Prince. The family didn’t have much, Idrache said.

~ Dan Lamothe, excerpts from The story behind the ‘American Dream’ photo at West Point that went viral


Notes:

  • Post Inspiration: Today is Martin Luther King Day: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that.”
  • Post Title: “The New Colossus” is a sonnet that American poet Emma Lazarus (1849–1887) wrote in 1883 to raise money for the construction of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. In 1903, the poem was engraved on a bronze plaque and mounted inside the pedestal’s lower level. (Source: wiki)

Comments

  1. i am weeping right along with him. amazing.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Tears here – good tears….
    We heard of the death of a very, very dear friend last Thursday and ever since then we just laugh and cry, often together as we remember so many moving, touching, funny, sad and emotional moments we had with that outstanding, humble human being. Now tears again, but as I said, good ones!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This, THIS is the face of our America, not 45’s. How DARE he. (My blood boils….can you tell?) Beautiful story – and you know his family must be so proud of him. Thanks, David.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Nan Heldenbrand Morrissette says:

    Thank you for this post, David. I pray that, if and when we are rid of the Ruling Party and it’s puppet, THIS is the America we will find again.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. Awesome, just awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. How fortunate are we to have a gentleman like him serving this country? I remember my mom repeating her love for this country over and over again, voting in every election with awe that she could (yes this country that initially turned people like her away)…these huddled masses yearning to breathe free – these are some people who value their citizenship more than some of those who have been here for generations.

    Liked by 5 people

    • We need these reminders. You Mother’s generation understood it…along with the ultimate sacrifices. Mimi, your thought reminds me of:

      “Do you realize what happiness we have, and what has been given to us?”

      María Casares, from a letter to Albert Camus written c. March 1952 in Correspondance: 1944-1959 by Albert Camus and Maria Casares (Editions Gallimard, November 9, 2017)

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow… America might be alive and well after all? I keep forgetting it’s a possibility. Thank you for this, and I thank this young man and his whole family for such perseverance.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. ‘yearning to breathe free…’ – I will be thinking on this phrase today. Thank you for sharing this story and reminding us to read these words, again.

    Peace

    Liked by 2 people

  9. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

    A picture is worth a thousand words. It speaks even more poignantly when accompanied by words that place the picture in its context. The Haitian immigrant’s son at West Point graduating from the U.S, Military Academy with tears running down his cheeks and Martin Luther King: “Only love can do that.”

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes Gordon. So true.

      Like

    • And your thought Gordon, reminded me of:

      Why do we measure people’s capacity
      To love by how well they love their progeny?

      That kind of love is easy. Encoded.
      Any lion can be devoted

      To its cubs. Any insect, be it prey
      Or predator, worships its own DNA.

      Like the wolf, elephant, bear, and bees,
      We humans are programmed to love what we conceive.

      That’s why it’s so shocking when a neighbor
      Drives his car into a pond and slaughter–

      Drowns his children. And that’s why we curse
      The mother who leaves her kids—her hearth—

      And never returns. That kind of betrayal
      Rattles our souls. That shit is biblical.

      So, yes, we should grieve an ocean
      When we encounter a caretaker so broken.

      But I’m not going to send you a card
      For being a decent parent. It ain’t that hard

      To love somebody who resembles you.
      If you want an ode then join the endless queue

      Of people who are good to their next of kin—
      Who somehow love people with the same chin

      And skin and religion and accent and eyes.
      So you love your sibling? Big fucking surprise.

      But how much do you love the strange and stranger?
      Hey, Caveman, do you see only danger

      When you peer into the night? Are you afraid
      Of the country that exists outside of your cave?

      Hey, Caveman, when are you going to evolve?
      Are you still baffled by the way the earth revolves

      Around the sun and not the other way around?
      Are you terrified by the ever-shifting ground?

      Hey, Trump, I know you weren’t loved enough
      By your sandpaper father, who roughed and roughed

      And roughed the world. I have some empathy
      For the boy you were. But, damn, your incivility,

      Your volcanic hostility, your lists
      Of enemies, your moral apocalypse—

      All of it makes you dumb and dangerous.
      You are the Antichrist we need to antitrust.

      Or maybe you’re only a minor league
      Dictator—temporary, small, and weak.

      You’ve wounded our country. It might heal.
      And yet, I think of what you’ve revealed

      About the millions and millions of people
      Who worship beneath your tarnished steeple.

      Those folks admire your lack of compassion.
      They think it’s honest and wonderfully old-fashioned.

      They call you traditional and Christian.
      LOL! You’ve given them permission

      To be callous. They have been rewarded
      For being heavily armed and heavily guarded.

      You’ve convinced them that their deadly sins
      (Envy, wrath, greed) have transformed into wins.

      Of course, I’m also fragile and finite and flawed.
      I have yet to fully atone for the pain I’ve caused.

      I’m an atheist who believes in grace if not in God.
      I’m a humanist who thinks that we’re all not

      Humane enough. I think of someone who loves me—
      A friend I love back—and how he didn’t believe

      How much I grieved the death of Prince and his paisley.
      My friend doubted that anyone could grieve so deeply

      The death of any stranger, especially a star.
      “It doesn’t feel real,” he said. If I could play guitar

      And sing, I would have turned purple and roared
      One hundred Prince songs—every lick and chord—

      But I think my friend would have still doubted me.
      And now, in the context of this poem, I can see

      That my friend’s love was the kind that only burns
      In expectation of a fire in return.

      He’s no longer my friend. I mourn that loss.
      But, in the Trump aftermath, I’ve measured the costs

      And benefits of loving those who don’t love
      Strangers. After all, I’m often the odd one—

      The strangest stranger—in any field or room.
      “He was weird” will be carved into my tomb.

      But it’s wrong to measure my family and friends
      By where their love for me begins or ends.

      It’s too easy to keep a domestic score.
      This world demands more love than that. More.

      So let me ask demanding questions: Will you be
      Eyes for the blind? Will you become the feet

      For the wounded? Will you protect the poor?
      Will you welcome the lost to your shore?

      Will you battle the blood-thieves
      And rescue the powerless from their teeth?

      Who will you be? Who will I become
      As we gather in this terrible kingdom?

      My friends, I’m not quite sure what I should do.
      I’m as angry and afraid and disillusioned as you.

      But I do know this: I will resist hate. I will resist.
      I will stand and sing my love. I will use my fist

      To drum and drum my love. I will write and read poems
      That offer the warmth and shelter of any good home.

      I will sing for people who might not sing for me.
      I will sing for people who are not my family.

      I will sing honor songs for the unfamilar and new.
      I will visit a different church and pray in a different pew.

      I will silently sit and carefully listen to new stories
      About other people’s tragedies and glories.

      I will not assume my pain and joy are better.
      I will not claim my people invented gravity or weather.

      And, oh, I know I will still feel my rage and rage and rage
      But I won’t act like I’m the only person onstage.

      I am one more citizen marching against hatred.
      Alone, we are defenseless. Collected, we are sacred.

      We will march by the millions. We will tremble and grieve.
      We will praise and weep and laugh. We will believe.

      We will be courageous with our love. We will risk danger
      As we sing and sing and sing to welcome strangers.

      ~ Sherman Alexie, Hymn (Early Bird Books, August 2017)

      Liked by 5 people

  10. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    The America of yesteryear …
    “I am humbled and shocked at the same time. Thank you for giving me a shot at the American Dream and may God bless America, the greatest country on earth. “I am humbled and shocked at the same time. Thank you for giving me a shot at the American Dream and may God bless America, the greatest country on earth.”

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Reblogged this on Views from the Edge and commented:
    “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

    The photo of the Haitian immigrant’s son is worth a thousand words, but the words put the tears in context on Martin Luther King Day. “Only love can do that.” Thanks to David Kanigan for this poignant post for Martin Luther King Day.

    Like

  12. “I could not help but be flooded with emotions knowing that I will be leading these men and women who are willing to give their all to preserve what we value as the American way of life. To me, that is the greatest honor. Once again, thank you.”

    Bless this young man. So proud of all he’s accomplished,so grateful for his willingness to serve. I see him, I see hope….

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Anonymous says:

    Not sure that I can add to what has been said, other than thank you for posting this David Kanigan. So many emotions, which is pretty much what I have felt for many months. Look forward to a better day. The maple leaf! Are you Canadian? My mother was so I feel a special affinity for all things Canada!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. We are still a Beacon even when we are Dimmed.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. My brother graduated West Point. Tough act to follow. I got to wondering about this story, and dug around some and there is a little more to it than just 2nd Lieutenant Alix. Another Haitian graduated beside him that year. Can you see this?

    Liked by 1 person

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