During a West Point Military Academy graduation ceremony, a striking photo of a “weeping cadet” went viral after it was posted on social media. What’s more powerful were his reasons behind his dramatic show of emotion, which he shared online.
Haitian-born cadet Alix Idrache was pictured with tears streaming down his face at his graduation from the prestigious West Point Military Academy on May 21, 2016.
Idrache became a second lieutenant along with over 950 of his classmates. He was also West Point’s top graduate in physics, earning the school’s Brigadier General Gerald A. Counts Memorial Award.
The powerful photo, captured by Army Staff Sgt. Vito T. Bryant, went viral after it was posted on the West Point Military Academy’s Facebook page along with a caption, which read: “No greater feeling than that of accomplishment!”
Seeing the enormous response his photo garnered from netizens, Idrache commented on his Facebook: “I am humbled and shocked at the same time. Thank you for giving me a shot at the American Dream and may God bless America, the greatest country on earth.”
With only basic English skills, Idrache immigrated to the United States from Port-au-Prince in 2009. He made his way through one of America’s elite military schools after becoming a U.S. citizen, and served two years as an enlisted soldier with the Maryland Army National Guard, according to the Washington Post.
The same photo was also posted on West Point’s Instagram page, where Idrache explained the “three things” that brought him to tears.
First, he was overcome with emotion as he stood at attention during the ceremony because he finally achieved his dream of graduating from the U.S. Military Academy. “I am from Haiti and never did I imagine that such honor would be one day bestowed on me,” he wrote.
Second, he was thinking of how the men and women “who have preserved the very essence of the human condition stood in that position and took the same oath.”
Thirdly, the Haitian-American was filled with excitement about starting flight school at the Army Aviation Center for Excellence in Fort Rucker, Alabama. After witnessing U.S. forces conducting humanitarian missions in Haiti during his youth, he was blown away by its Chinook helicopters.
And being a pilot is a dream he couldn’t possibly have achieved in Haiti as there are no such aircraft, no helicopters, and no flight schools, Idrache explained in an Army news release.
“Knowing that one day I will be a pilot is humbling beyond words,” Idrache wrote.
“I could not help but be flooded with emotions knowing that I will be leading these men and women who are willing to give their all to preserve what we value as the American way of life.”