My Sister, Future Leader of the Free World

Before launching into the real purpose of this post, I must make one comment: supporting a West Coast baseball team while living on the East Coast is awesome. It’s almost 11 p.m. and the Mariners and Marlins are only in the third inning. I’ll be in bed before it’s over, but in Oregon, you don’t get to fall asleep listening to the M’s. (Of course, I understand that this is a double-edged sword, because it’s this same phenomenon that helps perpetuate the “East Coast bias” in sports – East Coasters don’t give West Coast teams [see, “2010 Oregon Ducks”] the credit they deserve because they’re rarely awake late enough to watch them play. But that’s for another post.)

Now that we’ve got a sports reference and parentheses-within-parentheses out of the way…

One of my favorite pictures of Hope and me - at the 2010 Civil War football game.

One of my favorite pictures of Hope and me - at the 2010 Civil War football game.

It was a big weekend for the Landsem family, as my sister Hope and my parents traveled to New York to drop Hope off at the United States Military Academy at West Point, where she’ll soon begin her first year. Tomorrow is known as “R-Day” in West Point-speak. It stands for “Reception Day,” and it basically means Hope’s first day as a West Point cadet. (I’m probably messing up some of the terminology, because I don’t think she’s officially a “cadet” until she finishes basic training, but you get the idea.)

Anyway, it’s a huge step. Most of my sister’s friends are still basking in the glory of summer vacation, but for the next several weeks, she’ll be acclimating herself to West Point life during BEAST – that’s an acronym for something I can’t fully remember, but it’s cadet basic training. On “A-Day,” or “Acceptance Day” in the middle of August, she’ll become a full-fledged cadet and begin her academic endeavors at West Point.

Hope is fully prepared for this: she was Student Body President this past year at her high school, was a Valedictorian, wants to be a chemical engineer, went to a Summer Leadership Seminar at West Point last summer…she was even a contestant on the kids’ edition of “Jeopardy!” in 2005. (No joke. She even has an IMDB profile because of it.)

I feel very lucky to have had some one-on-one time with my sister this weekend. She arrived in New York on Friday night (our parents didn’t come until Saturday) so we spent Saturday in the city.

A view of Manhattan from the Roosevelt Island Tram

We took the Roosevelt Island tram to um, well, Roosevelt Island. I don’t know how many people generally ride the tram, but it seems to be a hidden gem of New York City tourism. Tram fare is no different than a regular MTA MetroCard fare, and you get a pretty solid view of Manhattan. It’s not as impressive as an observation deck like Top of the Rock, but for a few bucks, it can’t be beat. The island itself also has nice walkways along the East River.

After meeting our parents last night, we drove to Newburgh, New York – a town near West Point. Escaping the city for the first time since I arrived was relaxing, but strange. We were only 50 or 60 miles outside NYC, but it felt like lightyears. Where were the skyscrapers? The smells? The subway stations? Here, people drove their own cars and lived among rolling hills and the Hudson River. I’m making it sound more idyllic than it really was, but the contrast between West Point and the city was astounding. My New York bubble had been popped.

We made a quick tour through the West Point campus (just in the car) but the place is stunning. You can just feel the history. I’m so proud of my sister for earning admission to the academy and for securing her place at an institution that’s taught some of our nation’s most important leaders. I mean, just read this sentence from West Point’s website:

From the day of its founding on March 16, 1802, a favorite expression at West Point is that “much of the history we teach was made by people we taught.” Great leaders such as Grant and Lee, Pershing and MacArthur, Eisenhower and Patton, Schwarzkopf and Petraeus are among the more than 50,000 graduates. Countless others, following military service, have had distinguished careers in business, medicine, law, sports, politics, and science.

Words fail me. How can you not be impressed?

One aspect of my sister’s West Point experience that I find especially cool is how her graduating class of 2015 will mark the 100th

The entrance to West Point welcomed new cadets.

anniversary of “the class the stars fell on,” West Point’s class of 1915. That class included many of the most important leaders of World War II, like Omar Bradley and Dwight D. Eisenhower. This is cool for obvious reasons (“Oh, yeah, my fellow West Point alumnus, Dwight Eisenhower…”) but also because I’d assume there’d be a high likelihood of someone super important speaking at graduation (which I plan to attend).

While the weekend was bittersweet – I won’t see Hope until mid-August, and can only communicate via written letters until then – I am grateful for the time we had this weekend. The transition to military life likely won’t be easy, but I know she’ll do great. And in a few years, she’ll probably run for president.

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37 thoughts on “My Sister, Future Leader of the Free World

  1. Pat says:

    Yeah, notice how all those great leaders they list are men? I hope your sister kicks butt and becomes the first female name they list on their web site!

    • David says:

      Pat, the first women to graduate from West Point were in the Class of 1980. The youngest person on the list quoted above graduated in 1974 — had you heard of Petraeus six years ago?

      Congrats to the New Cadet and it’s great to see someone so proud of his sister!

    • Paige Landsem says:

      Paul,

      Thanks for your kind words. I’ll certainly let her know – since we can only communicate via written letters for the next several weeks, I’ll write and let her know! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Paige

  2. flatland57 says:

    Okay, east coast snob that I am, I had no idea about the time zone affecting games, or let’s just say I didn’t give it much thought. I’m a women’s basketball fan & seeing Stanford even get to play until the finals was just out of the question.
    However, I really enjoyed reading your post, and I think it was written well. It flowed very nicely. This summer before college is one of the great summers of your life. Good luck to your sister & to you too.

    • Paige Landsem says:

      Yeah! Some love for the Pac-10. I s’pose I should have qualified that statement by saying that I know there are several other contributing factors to the East Coast bias, but I believe the time zone thing to be a big one.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, and for your well-wishes for my sister!

  3. Deborah the Closet Monster says:

    I don’t usually read FP posts, but the Oregon Ducks hat made this ’00 Duck exclaim aloud. It’s not like I see other Ducks that infrequently even here in SoCal; I haven’t had gone to Disneyland without a (clear) Duck sighting even once.

    By contrast, I’ve only seen a single badge of Beaverdom displayed. I ribbed the lady in good nature, but really? I’m always delighted to see Oregonians out and about. I love my new home, but I love my old one as well and these reminders of their closeness thrill me.

    Congrats to your sister, and congrats to you for being FP’d!

    • Paige Landsem says:

      Deborah,

      Thanks for your comment! It’s really cool to know that someone noticed the post because of its Duck ties. (That one badge of Beaverdom you saw was probably my dad, an OSU grad. Somehow I turned out right. 🙂 )

      But really, thanks so much for reading and commenting. I appreciate the kind words for my sister and love connecting with other UO-ers in the blogosphere! Go Ducks!

      Paige

    • Paige Landsem says:

      Thanks, Jordon! How have we not met at UO? I’m sure I’ve passed you roaming the halls of Allen at some point. 🙂

      You should come back east! There are definitely parts of me that miss Oregon, but I absolutely love the city. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  4. Karen says:

    I look forward to voting for Hope in the future. I Love this! And I love the way you love your sister. I have one too and would be lost without her. I live about 20 minutes from Newburgh, on the other side of the Newburgh/Beacon and I have had the good fortune to visit the most impressive West Point. Good luck to both of you!!

    • Paige Landsem says:

      Wow! Small world. That’s so cool that you’re from the area. I’d been to West Point about ten years ago, but this was the first time I’d been there and was really able to appreciate the beauty of the area and the history of West Point.

      Thanks for reading and commenting – we both appreciate your kind words! I’ll let her know she has at least one (well, two including me) voters for her impending presidential run. 🙂

  5. jsh0608 says:

    Good luck to your sister. I’m sure you will keep us updated as the time gets closer. There will be a lot of people rooting for you sister. Congrats on being FP! :0)

  6. comingeast says:

    Loved reading about your sister and how proud you are of her, and rightly so. I’ll be keeping my eye open for her run for Prez when she is old enough. Congrats on F.P.!

  7. Jos says:

    This was such a good post!

    My older sister just graduated from university, and I’m going to be applying in about a year and a half, so this really struck a chord. Congrats to your sister!

  8. emjayandthem says:

    Words fail me, too .. as I AM most definitely impressed.

    I also read your follow up post; what a great idea to cut & paste all the neat comments into a letter for her. I think you might find the “snail mail” is a fun way of communicating … all the best to your sister at West Point and kudos to you for so proudly rooting for her !! MJ

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