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July 7, 2014

AND STILL THE WATERS RUN: Marching Fourth: Three Stillwater High graduates receive military commissions

STILLWATER, Okla. — The Fourth of July weekend continues with fireworks displays, barbecue parties, colorful parades and flag hoisting ceremonies. As a symbol of the United States, the flag is an important part of military commissioning ceremonies. Three Stillwater High School graduates recently earned their commission after graduating from national military service academies.

Caleb W. Ritchey, Stillwater High School Class of 2010, graduated May 28, 2014, from the United States Military Academy at West Point. Immediately following commencement, Ritchey was commissioned into the United States Army as a second lieutenant. Ritchey completed a bachelor’s degree in foreign languages with a minor in environmental engineering. He will report to Fort Lee, Va., for transportation officer’s training and then to Ft. Bragg, N.C., where he will serve as a transportation officer for the 82nd Airborne Division. The United States flag used at Ritchey’s commission ceremony was flown over Perkins Elementary school on the last day of classes for the 2014 school year and retired by Beth Oyster, Caleb’s kindergarten teacher. 

Navy Ensign Babak Khoshroo graduated May 23, 2014, with a bachelor’s degree from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and was commissioned to his current rank. Khoshroo is a 2009 graduate of Stillwater High School and he attended the Naval Prep School in 2009-2010. He is scheduled to report to his first ship assignment on the USS Bataan as a Navy surface warfare officer in charge of any number of shipboard operations and activities while at sea including maintaining and operating the ship, systems and crew.

Another graduate from the Stillwater High School Class of 2009, Lt. Matthew Wesley Talley, earned a bachelor’s degree May 28, 2014, from the United States Military Academy at West Point where he was in the defense and strategic studies, French and civil engineering programs. He graduated from the United States Military Academy Preparatory School in 2010. His commissioning ceremony was held on the banks of the Hudson River with members of the Black Knights judo team. As a second lieutenant in the United States Army, Talley has been selected for a pilot program where his first assignment is to report for the Ranger course at Ft. Benning, Ga., a leadership school for special operations.

Commissioning is the culmination of a rigorous program of intense academic, military and physical training designed to produce leaders of character with academy commencement marking the journey’s end for the cadets and the beginning of a life of service to the country. These officers have chosen to protect our freedom and, according to West Point graduate Dwight D. Eisenhower, United States president and Army five-star general, “only our individual faith in freedom can keep us free.”

The Fourth of July is about celebrating the hard-fought freedom of our great nation.

“From Europe to Asia, we are the hub of alliances unrivaled in the history of nations. America continues to attract striving immigrants. The values of our founding inspire leaders in parliaments and new movements in public squares around the globe,” President Barack Obama said in his West Point commencement address. “And when a typhoon hits the Philippines, or schoolgirls are kidnapped in Nigeria, or masked men occupy a building in Ukraine, it is America that the world looks to for help. So the United States is and remains the one indispensable nation. That has been true for the century passed and it will be true for the century to come . . . America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will.”

Throughout the country, as we raise the American flag high, relaxing together and enjoying our precious free time over the holiday, many join us throughout the world, rejoicing July 4, 1776, the historic day the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence.

“But the world is changing with accelerating speed,” Obama said. “This presents opportunity, but also new dangers. We know all too well, after 9/11, just how technology and globalization has put power once reserved for states in the hands of individuals, raising the capacity of terrorists to do harm. It will be your generation’s task to respond to this new world. The question we face, the question each of you will face, is not whether America will lead, but how we will lead - not just to secure our peace and prosperity, but also extend peace and prosperity around the globe.”

Godspeed to the Class of 2014 – “Forever One Team.”

Elizabeth Keys writes for the Stillwater News Press. “And, Still the Waters Run” tells stories about people and events in the area. Share your news by emailing activities, photos or ideas to ekeys@stw-newspress.com.

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