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By John Kennedy, U.S. Naval War College Museum
Jan. 14, 2012

As the first U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) class to graduate into a wartime situation since the Vietnam War, the Class of 2002 has produced a book that stands as a testament to the ideals and values of that institution.

The editors spent three years inviting their classmates to “share the podium” and talk about their experiences endured on the front lines.

The book, “In the Shadow of Greatness,” speaks to its readers on many different levels. It is a reflective book that demonstrates the U.S. Navy’s core values in action.

The book also has quite a pedigree.

David Gergen, the political commentator and presidential advisor, wrote the foreword to the book. Adm. Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote the epilogue. Tom Brokaw calls it a “must read.” It is on the Chief of Naval Operations Jonathan Greenert’s reading list.

My connection with the book is that one of the editors, and the driving force spearheading the effort, Josh Welle, was one of my students when I taught Navy Junior ROTC at Wall High School in New Jersey.

As a teenager, Josh was a people person, one who could have never met a stranger and talk about anything.

Prior to arrival at the USNA, he was selected for a post-graduate year of high school offered through the Naval Academy Foundation. He did so well academically that he was able to accelerate completion of his course requirements at the Academy and begin work on his master’s degree prior to graduation.

Following graduation, he became a surface warfare officer.

For the lecture, Josh reached out to one of his classmates, Meghan Courtney, a contributing author, to present the book. Courtney was a surface warfare officer who now works in cyber-security at Hanscom Air Force Base.

To frame her discussion, Courtney relayed the story told by Gergen in his foreword to the book.

Gergen told how Steven Ambrose, the noted historian, was questioned if today’s young men and women would be able to measure up to the greatest generation? Did they have the “right stuff”?

Without a doubt, he stated; they will rise up as the “sons and daughters of democracy” because they knew and valued the blessings of liberty.

This book is a testament to that insightful response.

Courtney then discussed the development of the book and provided three readings from the 33 individual stories to illustrate the different aspects of the book. After a short question and answer period, she made herself available for book signings.

The next 8 Bells Lecture will be Jan. 17 with Christine Haverington presenting “War and Paradise: The Writing of Images of America: Middletown.”

Posted by Dan Marciniak