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West Point Cadets drink to Steuben at their Oktoberfest
For many years, Officers and Cadets from the Military Academy at West Point have marched in the Annual Steuben Parade to pay tribute to the Prussian General who helped establish the Academy on the Hudson River and wrote the drill manual that to date is the basis for military training in the US Army. Recently, the Officers and Cadets of the German Language Club celebrated Oktoberfest, and members of the Steuben Parade Committee were in attendance.
The German Language Club is part of West Point´s Foreign Language Department. Here, cadets can learn eight different languages including Arabic and Farsi (Persian), which become more important in intelligence, but also Russian, Chinese, and the languages of long term allies, German, Spanish, French, Portuguese.
Most Cadets in the Foreign Language speak German at a high level, including Captain Douglas Willig and Major Jordan Francis, who hosted the Steuben Parade representatives. They welcomed Parade Chairman Lars Halter and Vice Chairman Herb Seeff on stage where Halter presented the German Language Club with a Certificate of Gratitude for many year´s of cooperation between the Academy and the Parade. He also presented this year´s leader of the German Language Club, Cadet Alexander Imbriale with a silver medallion with Steuben´s likeness.
Today, West Point is the longest running American military training facility. It was founded in 1778 when General George Washington commissioned Polish General Thaddeus Kosciuszko to draw up plans and build barracks for the soldiers of the new Continental Army. None other than General Friedrich von Steuben had just written "Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States", commonly known as the "Blue Book". It was a basic training plan for soldiers and is still the basis of all training done at the Academy.
West Point is proud of its history and its affiliation with Steuben. The Prussian General who became instrumental in winning freedom from Great Britain during the Revolutionary War when he personally trained Washington´s patriotic but inefficient troops. Today, bronze busts of Steuben decorate Lafayette Park near the White House in Washington, D.C. as well as the Pentagon and Valley Forge, the very place where Steuben trained the troops in the winter of 1777/78. There are also portraits of Steuben in Valley Forge, and the General´s name is regularly mentioned during exercise as well as presentations, including the regular football games, when the West Point players are led onto the field by cadets praising the life and work of one of the greatest German-Americans.
German-American cooperation is still an important part of all work done in West Point. For the last two years, Colonel Jürgen Fidorra has been the German Liaison Officer at the Military Academy. He took part in the Steuben Parades of 2009 and 2010 and has fond memories of marching up Fifth Avenue with the most elegant and disciplined cadets in their white uniforms. Colonel Fidorra, as well as Foreign Language Department Chief, Colonel Ricki McPeak, are looking forward to working with the Steuben Parade for years to come.