Early each fall, West Point’s Boxing Team makes the trip from the Hudson Valley in New York to south side Chicago’s Leo Catholic High School to conduct a clinic, share their personal stories and participate in an exhibition.
Rites of passage are important and plebe boxing is also the source of tremendous confidence, courage, pride, camaraderie and among the ranks of alpha males, bragging rights. Boxing is a great equalizer. Status vanishes. Race vanishes. Religion vanishes. And you are left with raw passion, physical prowess, and controlled agression. Enter that proving ground and no matter where you hail from, you are only in that ring. You’re from nowhere. Its just you vs your opponent…you vs yourself.
1LT Gibson’s story may sound a lot like yours or someone you know. What makes this story beautiful is how utterly relatable it is — to graduates, to veterans, to service men and women, and to each of their families that have endured the countless goodbyes and welcome homes of military life.
Laura Walker died on August 18th, 2005 in Afghanistan, many miles removed from Arvin Gym, the Cadet Barracks, the Mess Hall and trip sections. Laura was an Army-brat, Captain of Women’s Team Handball, and a member of the class of 2003–our classmate. I did not know her very well. And that fact stung me with a sense of dread as I arrived at West Point on the morning of Friday, March 27, 2015.