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Nelson at West Point 1983

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Mary S Taylor

Joined: 27 Nov 2007
Posts: 28018
Location: Fresno, CA

PostPosted: Sat Jun 20, 2015 10:35 pm    Post subject: Nelson at West Point 1983 Reply with quote

Pacific Grove Tribune, CA April 27, 1983
Mark Nelson decides on West Point
At 18, Mark Nelson’s a seasoned traveler, a fine amateur athlete and an observer of international politics. He’s also headed for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. Nelson, a senior at Pacific Grove High and the second son of Jim and Caroline Nelson, came to Pacific Grove in September from North Carolina. His father is in the Army, serving as a MEDAC physician. “It was fairly easy to adjust,” he says. “This is a fairly small school and people are friendly…It’s a lot nicer than going to a big school (where) you don’t see your friends for a week…In a way, it’s hard to have to make new friends, (adjust) to new teachers and new customs. But I’d say overall, I enjoyed it.” For him, adjusting means “You have to get involved in things…I’ve learned to go out and meet people, not expect them to come to me. I’m the new one.” Then he adds, “I’m not really outgoing, but I’ve developed into the last few years.” Noting that he also has been accepted at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C, and at the University of Virginia, Nelson explains that his decision about West Point is due May 1. “…I’ve been around the military a lot. I have a better idea than civilian students about what it’s like,” he says. “I have a fairly good feeling about going (to West Point). It has a good reputation…The classes are small, which I like. It’s different from a normal college,” and that’s important, too, he says. He wants to be out of the ordinary. Academically, his interest centers on international relations and foreign affairs. “I lived in Germany for 10 years. I visited the Soviet Union and I’m more aware of what other countries are like. I’ aware of how much I would not like to be under that type of government,” he says, referring to the Soviet Union. “I think it’s important that some citizens support he military. “West Point provides a lot of opportunities...because they pay for your education. Another thing I like about West Point just accept you because you have good test scores..You also have to do well in sports and in clubs. ”Nelson meets that criteria, playing football and being captain of the swim team. “I’ve been swimming since I was 11. My brother was going out for the team, so I decided to try out too,” he says. “I didn’t think I would like it but I do…It’s rewarding because you control how well you do…You’re more responsible for the outcome than in other team sports.” He’s academically active, too. He participated in the Model UN program and he won second place overall in the seven-school academic decathlon that took place last November. He belongs to the California Scholarship Federation and Young Life, and works on the staff of the Newsbreaker, the school paper. Discussing the implications of his choice of schools, he says, “A lot of times, people get the idea if you’re going to West Point, you’re more oriented with being aggressive. For myself, it would be nice if we didn’t have to have war, if we didn’t need the military. But it’s not realistic, it’s not plausible. A nation like Switzerland can get around it but when you have different ideologies, like the U.S. and the Soviet Union, the best way to keep our rights and all the things that are great about democracy is to have a good defense. As long as you have the ability to deter any aggression by the Soviet Union, then you can protect all the things that make the U.S.” From his viewpoint, the U.S. military “provides a kind of sanctuary…It’s not as much a world police officer as it used to be. I feel we should try to protect nations that have democracy now, especially in places like Europe. With pro-Western dictators, we need to be very careful who we support, because even though they may be pro-Western, they may not be upholding the rights of individuals. I was in the soviet Union and there’s a lot of misconception, first of all, that the average Soviet is a warmonger. To me, they seemed pretty much like Americans. They’re not terrible people, they didn’t spit on me. The problem is, they’re really heavily controlled by their government. It’s the five percent who are in the Communist Party that are the ones who decide what’s going to happen. Most Soviet people don’t have that much say,” says Nelson. Summing up his feelings on the situation, he explains, “Basically, I have a strong belief in the principles of democracy. I feel a certain need to protect (my) ideals. For me, by going to a military academy, I can help support the ideals of this nation
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