Friday, April 24, 2009
West Point travels
I've just returned from a 4-day visit to West Point. To be honest, it's not a place I ever thought to visit, and I was only there for meetings, but am glad I had the opportunity to see this interesting and beautiful campus. I learned so much, about the history of the school, but even more about our country. I had no idea on some of it...
Tuesday afternoon, we took a tour of the campus. There was so much to see and learn! From the buildings to the chapels to the sports venues to the "million dollar view," it was all very impressive.
Wednesdsay morning, we spent time at the Jewish Chapel with the rabbi who happens to be a graduate from my father's high school alma mater (Greater New York Academy) and his and my college alma mater (Atlantic Union College) (both of them Christian schools). He was a physics major in college, but found his way to serving his country, first in Iraq and now at West Point.
Rabbi Huerta talked with us (about 35 educators and pastors from all over New England and New York) about the language of The Lord's Prayer and the Beatitudes. The original language, that is. Aramaic. He reminded us of the inadequacy of the English language when it comes to shades of meaning. For example, in English, The Lord's Prayer begins "Our Father." A formal and rather distant term. In the original language, it reads "My Daddy." Such a different connotation! Such a close and intimate reference! Starting that prayer off in such a manner totally turns that prayer on its ear, doesn't it?! His discussion on The Beatitudes was much longer (there are more of them after all), but was equally as astounding. Maybe even more so. It had all of us talking about it for hours afterwards. Reinforced for me the importance of context and original text when you are dealing with translations...
Wednesday afternoon we toured the West Point Museum, the largest military museum in the country. There were many, many fascinating items on display. Much to my dismay and frustration, my camera battery went dead, and I forgot to bring my spare with me, so had to make do with my phone camera (which I was at least glad I had). As a result, I was only able to preserve the impression of some of the amazing things I saw instead of the details.
Some of the things that still stand out include a bomb like the one that was dropped on Hiroshima, a carved eagle captured from Hitler's holdings during WWII, a drum used in the Revolutionary War, pistols belonging to George Washington, a life mask of Sitting Bull, and more.
Whenever I see such memorabilia, I am filled with awe just being near evidence that amazing people really do live and change the world, one way or the other, literally affecting the way I live now.
Photos: Cadets and the "million dollar view" of the Hudson River; inside the Cadet Chapel (flags are replicas of flags taken into major battles from the 1700s on); the book (scroll) of Esther on velum in the Jewish Chapel; Rabbi Huerta; life mask of Sitting Bull; giant carved eagle captured from Hitler.