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A Mirror to the Brotherhood

Cadet Colonel Bobby Cunningham gets thrown in the pool.

A Mirror to the Brotherhood: Our Failings and Our Successes

Leo Ogle '23

1. the relationship between brothers: "the bonds of brotherhood"
2. the feeling of kinship with and closeness to a group of people or all people: "a gesture of solidarity and brotherhood"

The brotherhood is all around us at the Academy. It’s on our walls. It’s on our t-shirts. It’s talked about in our promotional materials. The question is: How real is the Brotherhood? To me, the brotherhood has always been present here at the Academy, though I recognise that this may not be a universal feeling. Like many cadets, I had the added benefit of having a brother who had just graduated from the Academy when I started out.  Our biggest success as a school has been creating this sense of brotherhood; however, our biggest failing is that we have let cadets fall through the cracks. 

Firstly, we have failed to include our brothers through the things we say. We make jokes that, however benign they are intended, alienate our fellow cadets. I’ve been guilty of this. I have personally made insensitive remarks that very well may have made a classmate feel less a brother to me and the cadets around him. This can no longer be tolerated or accepted in any way.

Our words carry a heavier weight than we realize. This fact can also be a positive. A simple nod in the hall, a “what’s happening”, or any other kind of acknowledgement can turn someone’s day around and make them feel more like a part of the community. Everyday, we have the opportunity to strengthen the bonds we make here. 

A second failing is found in letting some of our brothers stand alone. When our brother is in a rough situation, it is imperative that we, as his brothers, never ever ever allow him to face a situation alone. Whether it’s school struggles or personal challenges, it is our responsibility to support a brother. This can be as simple as a text asking how they are holding up. It can even take the form of just giving them a sense of support and an opportunity to grow. Anything that shows this brother that we have his back can mean the world. 

The third failing in our brotherhood is not one of our own creation, for it is the lack of diversity in our corps. The fact is our corps is made up of 80% white cadets. This is an issue spanning generations; however, this statistic is changing with the help of organizations within the corps and administration actively seeking out future cadets of color. The creation of a more diverse corps of cadets will strengthen the brotherhood. A diversity of experience and culture is overwhelmingly positive in a learning environment, and in a broader context, it helps us all to become more well rounded, worldly people. 

It is imperative we accept these changes to create a truer brotherhood at the academy. I cannot overstate how important it is that we make these changes in our interactions with each other. These changes will strengthen the brotherhood and benefit all of us. We can make this bond real for all cadets.