Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Thursday, June 07, 2018

When I was a child I was (to put it mildly) a rather indifferent student, and a frequent threat was that if I didn't shape up I'd be sent to military school. In my instance this may have been an empty threat, but I can tell you that there were certainly other kids I knew who heard this. I knew kids that went to military academies as well. Take a look at this photo. Better yet, let's have a look at each of these cadets:

How would you describe the expressions on the faces of these 18 year old men? They are in full dress uniform, and plainly posing for a photograph, so this is an occasion when they are on display. Parent's weekend? Homecoming? Senior Day? We can assume it is some sort of important event- this isn't regular Saturday drill, I think, because if it were there'd be more cadets around. Do you think these men look fierce? Indomitable? Proud? To me they mostly look frightened, or nervous. Remember, these cadets are not marching off to war, or into battle-- this is a yearbook photo from a military academy. I think they are afraid they will screw up- and not something big, although it might have seemed big. (One of the things military school tries to impart is that it's all big, that any mistake damages the institution and brings dishonor.)  I know when I was 18 years old that was something I thought about a great deal.

Perhaps you see where this is going. Let's look at Cadet 2 again:

This is, of course, Donald J. Trump, then a senior at the New York Military Academy in Cornwall, New York. There's certainly a lot of backstory here, including a hazing scandal in which Trump's lack of leadership was implicated, but I don't want to read too much into how someone's high school career shaped their future. My Facebook feed suggests that some people are defined by high school a great deal (as does the career of Maureen Dowd), but other people move on. What interests me is the deeper question of what it must have felt like to have been such a chronic fuck-up that Trump's father pulled him out of a ritzy country day school and put him into a military academy. How would that have made a 13 year old boy feel? What does a 13 year old boy think when his parents send him out of their home into a place like that?

Three years ago NYMA went bankrupt and was auctioned to a group of Chinese investors after a fundraising effort by a group of alumni fell short. I haven't been able to find out if Trump kicked in-- the alum raised about $6 million bucks. 

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