Windsor Park Stories
Windsor Park Stories to Present Episodes on West PointIt started simply enough.
I was offering feedback on a project in my Practicum class at King’s College. A group of students were building a web site for a service fraternity, and they were reporting on some of the members who would be featured in the project.
The list contained the name of Patrick Murphy, a young man who had distinguished himself as president of our student government when the President of the United States visited King’s College in 1996.
Anyone who attended the events that day, knew that Patrick Murphy was destined to be successful. He had it all, and somehow we knew that he would use his talents well.
Because of the video we produced about President Clinton’s visit to King’s, we got to know Patrick Murphy in specialways, but as usually is the case we lost contact with him after he graduated.
He became a lawyer, and he made his way up the ranks to Captain in the Army. In 2003 he was teaching law at West Point. What an accomplishment.
A few telephone calls and before we knew it we were reunited with this fine young man outside Thayer Gate at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Accompanied by two King’s Mass Comm seniors, Bob Kalinowski and Anthony Solarino, our visit in April was to be a one-time event. Three days of shooting. We would meet Patrick. Record his Windsor Park Story. Shoot some B-roll and be on our way, or so we thought.
That rainy day in April was to be but the first of several visits to West Point. Thanks to Captain Murphy and Wilkes-Barre, PA, native Lt. Col. Mark Toole, Kitch and I spent the next three months visiting West Point.
We met virtually every person in the Law Department, and a number of these fine people took the time to tell us their stories. The leadership of Colonel Patrick Finnegan and his wife, Joan, was particularly impressive. Col. Finnegan heads the Law Department, and his wife is a treasure trove of information about the academy.
Lisa and Scott Brennemann and their story of overcoming adversity inspired us. Lisa was almost killed by a drunk driver, and she gives new meaning to the word courage. Scott helped us to define the meaning of the word commitment.
We befriended Dave Dominick, one of the administrators in the Law Department. Dave helped us in every way that he could. Whatever we needed to make things work, Dave Dominick was always willing to see that we got them.
Lt. Col Mark Toole, now Judge Mark Toole and his wife, Denise, opened their home and their hearts to us. They shared a priceless family gathering on the Hudson River with us. It was a very special moment because Chris and Melissa Alexander, Mark’s good friends, were there to share it as well.
Colonel Dave Wallace and his wife, Gwen, provided us a place to stay, and they included us in one of their social events. This enabled us to get to know some of the cadets in a relaxed setting at the Wallace home.
During our visits to West Point, we met some of the people who run the Public Affairs Office, and we got to know Major Kent Cassella, Col James Whaley and Frank Demaro, Jr.
We spent our down time at Grant Hall and we befriended Menzo Mimms, a wonderful person who did his very best to accommodate our dietary needs. Whenever we need a smile or an encouraging word, Menzo willingly provided both.
We toured the U.S. Military Academy with Joan Finnegan. We had a stunning moment with her inside the Gothic chapel that towers over the Academy, and we attended a special award ceremony honoring her years of service as a tour guide.
We witnessed the majesty of a parade with all of the cadets, and a Fourth of July concert at Trophy Point.
A chance encounter at the elevator with a distinguished looking cadet with an anxious look on his face prompted me to introduce myself and express my thanks for the service this young man was giving to his country. The frown broke into a beautiful smile as the words “Thank you, sir,” resonated from his lips.
Little did I know then that I was speaking to Cadet Rick Turner, Captain of the Cadet Corps. Only later did I discover that this young man would volunteer to sit for an interview because of that special moment.
Once again someone proved to this old teacher the power of the words “Thank You.”
Thanks to the intervention of Captain Murphy, we were privileged to experience a portion of an Honor Code hearing, and that stunning moment led to an interview with one of the participants, Jennifer Pampuch, a fourth year cadet, known at West Point as a Firstie.
On Graduation day, we stood in the rain at Michie Stadium and watched a ceremony that is quintessentially American. The music, the color, the glee club, the dignitaries all set the stage for two magic moments: the parade of the graduates and the tossing of the hats. Both Kodak moments, indeed.
Ironically, the hat that landed in our equipment bag belonged to Kevin Emore, a young man we interviewed at the monument to the Honor Code.
It was an amazing experience, and we were able to record it all so that we could bring the West Point experience to our viewers in this very special season of the Windsor Park Stories “What Is America?” episodes.
So we ask you to sit back and relax, as Windsor Park Stories takes you to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, in search of an answer to the question “What Is America?” We think this is a season of Windsor Park Stories that you will never forget.
The West Point Episodes of Windsor Park Stories, 2004
1. What Is America: The View From West Point;
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