USMA West Point

We had an opportunity to visit West Point later.  We arrived by car and were carefully scrutinized.  Photo ID's were necessary and a vehicle search was performed.  No pictures are allowed of the entry gates and guided tours were from air-conditioned buses (9-11 precautions).
First stop is the Visitors Center were you make arrangements for the bus tour.  We decided to wait a bit and get breakfast first.  Nearly 3 million people visit West Point each year, including alumni, friends and families of West Point cadets, school groups, senior citizens groups, and tourists from throughout the world.
Beside the Visitors Center is the West Point Museum that is reputed to be spectacular in its own right.  Based upon captured British materials brought to West Point after the British defeat at Saratoga in 1777, the Museum collections actually predate the founding of the United States Military Academy.
The Grounds, ....
the Buildings, ...
and the facilities are enormous.  This view is from the parking lot adjacent to the Thayer Hotel; both of these are inside West Point proper.
From the parking lot, you can ascend granite stairs to Thayer.  It is a military approved way to work up an appetite. (I did not have to improve the appetite, but I did need the exercise.)
The Thayer Hotel at West Point was originally constructed to accommodate U.S. Military Academy personnel and their guests.  It has expanded to offer the public facilities for weddings, banquets, conferences and retreats.
The Thayer Hotel at West Point has been part of American history, from its original construction in 1926.  It was a successor of the original West Point Hotel and is named for Colonel Sylvanius Thayer, Superintendent of the Academy from 1817 to 1833.
You can sit on the Thayer Hotel balcony to dine and enjoy the beautiful vistas of the Hudson River.
Our very dear friends Len & Carol (formerly S/Y Two By Two) had brought us here.  They suggested that indoor seating for hungry people was best, since it avoids excessive walking to the smorgasbord style food tables. 
If you really stuff yourself, and most do, you can go outside and take a leisurely walk about in their gardens.  Laying on your back and watching your tummy go down is discouraged, but there are chairs.
What tourist trap would be complete without the memorabilia shop? This is USMA approved and the merchandise is tasteful, high quality and "All American", all of which is reflected in the pricing.
All right, we are too full for those darn stairs.  Let's waddle down the ramp, find the car, drive back the Visitor Center and get on the Official Tour Bus.
It was raining by the time we made the bus, so many of the following pictures are dull and hazy.  These are some of the buildings seen from the stop at the Cadet Chapel.
The Cadet Chapel is a famous landmark and symbol of religious activities of the Military Academy.  Dedicated in 1910 and constructed of native granite, this building blends naturally into the surrounding landscape.
The architecture combines the techniques and shapes of Gothic with the massiveness of medieval fortresses. This architectural theme subsequently dominated the other construction at West Point.
(Boy - I need a bigger flash for these indoor shots!)
The Cadet Chapel organ (M. P. Moeller,) begun in 1911 and enlarged by memorial gifts is now the largest church organ in the world.  Is is so daunting that most visiting organists leave "The Organist and Director of Music, Mr. Craig Williams," to perform concerts.
In addition to The Cadet Chapel, there are the Catholic Chapel, the Jewish Chapel, the Post Chapel, St. Martin's Chapel and the much revered Old Cadet Chapel.
The West Point Cemetery sits on a promontory once known as German Flats that overlooks the Hudson River and Constitution Island.  There are more than 5,000 men and women buried here, among them, men who died in every American War from the Revolution to Vietnam.
We were poignantly reminded that the business of sacrificing life for one's principles was a continuing historical process.
Constructed in 1836, the Old Cadet Chapel is the first house of worship at the Academy. Originally located in the vicinity of the cadet barracks, because of the sentiment attached to this building after construction of the "new" cadet chapel, it was moved in 1910 stone by stone to its present location .

The interior is the repository for many unusual plaques and other memorabilia.  Because of its location at the entrance of the cemetery, many Funerals and Memorial services are held here.  It has also been the home for Lutheran services for many years.

Every gravestone has a story to tell - sometimes tragic, often inspirational - but all are threads in the fabric that binds West Point.  The cemetery is the center of West Point, if not literally, than at least figuratively. It is a reference point and symbol for every graduate.
The next bus stop was the parade square where we had various buildings pointed out that were now off-limits to visitors.  I had reached information overload, so I am sorry to say I do not remember all the names and facility uses.
Perhaps the most prominent and majestic monument at the Academy is the Battle Monument. It was dedicated in 1897 "in memory of the officers and men of the American Army who fell in battle," specifically the Regular Army casualties of the North during the Civil War.
On July 30, 1998, Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera, Class of 1978, presided over ceremonies at West Point officially designating the Hudson River as an American Heritage River.  We sat and reflected on our personal attachment to the river.