Every September 11, he said, always felt like mourning at a funeral.
“This one is different because of how close the last boot is to the ground and how close the anniversary is,” Viti said. “But those 13 Americans who were just killed brought it out of the rearview mirror and in the windshield for a lot of us.”
He added: “It does not seem quite over due to national and international threats. Some of this shutdown won’t happen like we think a ticker parade for some of our other conflicts. “
Yet with the last troops out of Afghanistan, this year’s seniors are the first in 20 years to graduate without expecting to be sent to war.
That thought must surely enter the minds of some of the roughly 25 recruits who lined up along the sideline on Saturday to watch the army warm up. Jack Latore, a defensive end from Middletown, NJ who is also considering Rutgers, said he had not given much thought to the end of the war. His father, Dan, who played at Rutgers, said he liked the academics offered by West Point, “whether wartime or not.”
Dan McCarthy, deputy athletic director, said that in recent years about one in five cadets have traveled to a war zone within five years of graduation, far fewer than when the military American was at the knee in two countries. Even so, he said, “every parent of a child we recruit is going to ask: is my son or daughter going to Afghanistan and Iraq? “
When Arik Smith, a senior linebacker from Bowie, Md., Was in high school in 2016, he was much more expected to travel to Afghanistan. Even though his grandfathers had served in Korea and Vietnam and his father was in the Coast Guard, he said, “There was a bit of concern. We considered the risk factor. It’s not as much of a risk factor today as it was then. It removes that doubt from the minds of parents and children.
On Saturday, there were few signs of the dark sides of a 20 Years War.
The match marked the culmination of an eventful week. It was branch week at the academy, when different branches – infantry, cyber, air defense, or transport, for example – recruit cadets for their programs. And on Friday, a statue commemorating the Buffalo Soldiers was unveiled on a lot down hill from Michie Stadium. Smith, who is black, said the statue is an important step in recognizing “everyone who is part of the foundation of what we do here.”