Nicholas Forbes '18 and Jack Eames '18
Nicholas: About 15 years ago, on the Paideia half-day playground, Jack and I were running around during recess. I had my arms stretched out like a bird pretending to fly.
Jack: I was miming a rifle and crawling through trenches in the sandbox.
Nicholas: The teachers reminded him of the “no guns at Paideia rule,” and they warned me, again, about jumping off the play structure.
Jack: We were simply little boys playing their playground games; surely we would grow out of it and there was nothing to worry about.
Nicholas: When asked on our “Paideia Self-Portrait” what we wanted to be when we grew up, I said “pilot” …
Jack: … and I said “soldier.” They didn’t take us too seriously. Most little kids, when asked what they wanted to be, would say Superman, a princess, or a dinosaur.
Nicholas: After half-day, we were off to Big Paideia, and different classrooms. … As junior year began, and the future started to loom over us, not as distant as it had always been, both of us began to drift back to the dreams of childhood. I applied to a summer program at the Naval Academy.
Jack: I did too, and we both went to the same session. That week was where we both decided that we liked getting yelled at, walking in straight lines, and being forced to do push-ups. What could possibly be a better college experience?
Nicholas: I remember when I got serious about wanting to have a military career. My mom (who works at the VA) was excited, and she told me that one of her personal regrets was not joining herself. My dad, on the other hand, he said something along the lines of “What? I paid way too much money for this damn school to put you in harm’s way!” So I told him that if I got in, college would be free. He liked that part.
Jack: I knew that my parents weren’t going to be exactly overjoyed at the prospect of me putting on a uniform. The military had never been a part of our lives. For example, when I was in half day—and beyond—my parents took the guns out of my Lego set, and I was not allowed to have my characters kill each other. They just got “knocked out,” or “put in jail.” It was hard to break the news to my mom. One day we were driving in the car, and I just looked over and said “Mom, I gotta talk to you about something. I want to be in the Army. I want to go to West Point.” She didn’t say anything for a few seconds, just stared at the road, shell-shocked, trying to maintain her composure. She looked over at me, a look of total confusion on her face, and said, “But we’re feminists!”
Nicholas: Choosing to apply and go to the service academies is not exactly a common choice at Paideia. I will be the first Paideia alumni to graduate from the Air Force Academy.
Jack: And I think I will be the first to graduate from West Point.
Nicholas: Most half-day dreams and ambitions don’t happen, people grow up, their dreams change. Ours did not.