By Patrick Hickey
In the John Ford classic “The Long Grey Line,” an Irish immigrant gets his chance at American life by taking a job as a waiter for the dining mess of the United States Military Academy at West Point. Martin Maher, played by the always wonderful Tyrone Power, soon learns that he can become free of mounting debt, due to his breakage of plates, cups and saucers, while serving the cadets, if he joins the Army. That he does.
Maher finds a place in life as an athletic manager for West Point’s Master of the Sword, the anachronistic term for Athletic Director, played by the always wonderful Ward Bond. We no longer have ‘always wonderful’ actors anymore, it seems to me, because Hollywood, like politics, academics and the law is dominated by jerks whop take themselves way too seriously. That said, John Ford’s wonderful movie about West Point (Honor, Duty, & Country) and its impact one Greenhorn should be required viewing – for anyone.
West Point is place where young Americans and young immigrants to America continue to learn honor, duty and country and take those lessons into harm’s way for all of us.
In one of the more delightful scenes in this film, Martin Maher is asked to give boxing lessons to warriors. The banty-rooster Irishman is decked seconds upon entering square ring, the Master of the Sword. He takes his licks and learns to dish out portions of his own, but more so the genuine love he bears for the cadets under his charge.
These cadets will go into the trenches of France during WWI and global killing fields of WWII and eventually Korea, in Ford’s film. These heroes learned the tri-pointed lessons not only in the classroom and parade grounds, but on the basketball courts baseball and football fields, tracks and boxing rings of West Point. Boyd Melson (Class of 2003) who fought with the Star of David on his boxing trunks would go on to the welter-weight Championships of US ARMY and World Military Championship in 2004, as well as the quarter finals for the World Amateur Boxing Championship. Melson knows Honor Duty and Country.
Honor, duty and country. These are words cause media anchors to smirk and academics to dismiss as justification of genocide, racism and classism. Warriors are as anachronistic to the craven sophisticates of our society, as the term Master of the Sword.
Leo Alumnus and United States Army Master Sergeant Marvin Carey captained the Army’s Boxing team, as well served in Iraq and Afghanistan with ground combat units. Marvin Carey knows Honor, Duty and Country. The corner stone of Leo High School laid by Cardinal George Mundelein, a fierce American, is engraved with Latin motto Pro Deo et Patria – for God and Country. I have yet to see that on any public school.
Leo High School on 79th Street, like every Catholic high school I know of, holds honor, duty and country to his heaving chest. Leo High School has conducted a Veterans Observance at the Leo War Memorial for more than twenty years. Many Leo graduates died in the service of our country and more than a few are graduates of America’s service academies.
West Point, Annapolis, the Air Force and the Coast Guard Academy have welcomed Leo Men for the last eighty years and now it is our turn. The West Point Society of Chicago will partner with Leo High School in showing inner city youth the West Point Way. West Point Boxing Club will join the Leo Boxing Club and the Celtic Boxing Foundation of Chicago in demonstrations and exhibitions of the manly art of self-defense.
Leo Boxing Coach, Mike Joyce was contacted by the West Point Society to help provide assistance in bringing the vales of Honor, Duty and Country to boxing rings here at Leo High School and at a yet to be determined venue for an evening of boxing.
When Irish American News hits the stands in September, I will provide more details about this great partnership between schools and more specific information like ticket prices and the exact location for this event listed below by West Point Society -
“On Saturday, September 19th, the team will conduct a boxing clinic in Chicago for middle school to early high school students, and that evening will be putting on a boxing exhibition consisting of eight bouts, complete with announcers, officials and local youth boxers from Chicago that evening. Eight cadets will match up with local boxers, with the goal of highlighting good sportsmanship and awareness. Proceeds from the event will be used in veterans’ programs”
The Master of Sword might belong to the mists of memory, come out and see the masters of the fist offer lessons in duty, honor and country.
Call me at Leo High School for updates at (773) 224-9600 extension 208.