Skip to comments.At West Point, 'Goats' Are an Exclusive Bunch
Posted on 11/27/2012 7:47:16 AM PST by afraidfortherepublic
When cadet Roberto Becerra Jr. walked onstage to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2007, the entire ceremony ground to a halt as he, before a crowd of thousands, transformed into a goat.
For this achievement, Mr. Becerra received a rousing ovation and was handed an envelope stuffed with cash.
In a 210-year-old military academy bristling with traditions, "the goat" is a curious custom that one might not expect to find at a school better known for its selectivity and high standards. Yet every year, the last-ranking cadet to make it through to graduation is anointed the goat, showered with praise, given a dollar from every other fellow graduateamounting to roughly $1,000and granted the biggest applause at the graduation ceremony.
"It did come as a shock when I was told that I was the goat," said Mr. Becerra, 29 years old, of El Paso, Texas. "At first I honestly had mixed feelings about it. I was like, 'Well, I don't know if I should take this as an accomplishment or as a scarlet letter.' "
While the title is in many ways a joke, the distinctive mix of the school's prestige, the tradition's long history and the achievements of many goats of decades past lends the name an unlikely significance, making it perhaps the most exclusive last-place award there is.
The origins of the goat are a mystery, but the earliest written reference to the term goes back to 1886, according to author and historian James S. Robbins. Mr. Robbins counts the collection of goat stories as a cherished hobby, and eventually wrote a book about them, called "Last in Their Class."
In most cases, Mr. Robbins said, a goat either tried hard but just barely made it through ~snip~
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...
The standards to graduate at all are pretty darned high at West Point.
Last in your class at West Point equates to being first in your class at any number of other colleges.
I have heard that they take those at risk for being “The Goat” to Custer’s grave at the West Point Cemetary and use that as an example of what happens to those who graduate last in their class.
The standards have been modified by race and sex. The academic requirements for certain minorities are much lower than for others. It is likely the goat will always now end up being a minority.
USNA has the same tradition, but they call him the “Anchorman”..guess not..Anchorperson.
All the grades and class standing at the academies used to be posted..there weren’t any secrets. I wonder if that is still true.
I've been stationed at West Point. Frankly I am underwhelmed at the academic requirments needed to graduate and the actual lack of military discipline.
It's not what the WP publicity machine puts out.
The last-place graduate from medical school is called a “Doctor”. :=)
What do you call someone who graduates at the bottom of his class in medical school?
I was reading an article about a guy who was try8ng to make it through Officer’s Candidate School (OCS) for the Marines. About half way through, he wanted to quit. One of the sargeants took him aside and said “DO YOU KNOW WHAT THEY CALL THE GUY WHO GRADUATES LAST FROM OCS? THEY CALL HIM ‘SIR’!”
I think there’s much wisdom in that thinking that can be applied to many things. If you go and run a mile every day, even if you’re not the fastest runner on the bock, you are a runner. One can easily think of a million other examples.
I always thought it was the proctologist.
Goat Roll Call
1818 John Taylor Pratt
1819 William Henry Swift
1820 William Walton Morris
1821 Julius A. DLagnel
1822 Henry Clark
1823 Egbert B. Birdsall
1824 William Beaverhout Thompson
1825 Samuel Rogers Allston
1826 Ephriam Kirby Smith
1827 Nelson W. Clark
1828 Phillip R. Van Wyck
1829 Richard B. Screven
1830 Stephen Bruce Legate
1831 John Conrad Jr.
1832 Albert Gallatin Edwards
1833 Nathaniel Wyche Hunter
1834 Alexander Montgomery
1835 Hugh McLeod
1836 Charles Henry Edward Spoor
1837 Franklin Saunders
1838 Zebulon Montgomery Pike Inge
1839 John Howard Hill
1840 John Danforth Bacon
1841 Charles Frederick Morris
1842 James Overing Handy
1843 George C. McClelland
1844 George Washington Hawkins
1845 William Logan Crittenden
1846 George Edward Pickett
1847 Henry Heth
1848 George Washington Howland
1849 James McQueen McIntosh
1850 Donald Chester Stith
1851 Lawrence Simmons Baker
1852 Hezekiah H. Garber
1853 William Craig
1854 John McCleary
1855 George McGunnegle Dick
1856 Arthur Sinclair Cunningham
1857 Lafayette Peck
1858 Charles Edward Jessup
1859 Henry Augustus F. Worth
1860 Harold Borland
1861, May Sheldon Sturgeon
1861, June George Armstrong Custer
1862 Charles Nelson Warner
1863 James Riley Reid
1864 Samuel Hall Kinney
1865 Charles Adam Dempsey
1866 James Blakeslee Cole
1867 John Henry Gifford
1868 William Henry Coombs
1869 Mason Marion Maxon
1870 Levi Pettibone Hunt
1871 Julius Hayden Pardee
1872 Millard Fillmore Goodwin
1873 Joseph Francis Huston
1874 James Hansell French
1875 Charles Wilson Williams
1876 Hamilton Rowan
1877 Frederick Halverston French
1878 Ormentiz John C. Hock
1879 Guy Roosevelt Beardslee
1880 Percy Edwards Trippe
1881 Frederick Thrall van Liew
1882 George Patrick Ahern
1883 Clarence Ransom Edwards
1884 Powhatan Henry Clark
1885 Edward Percival Lawton
1886 David William Fulton
1887 Frank Herman Albright
1888 Matthew Calbraith Butler Jr.
1889 Charles Young
1890 Vernon Avondale Caldwell
1891 David Price Cordray
1892 Horace George Hambright
1893 Matthew Edward Saville
1894 James Alfred Moss
1895 Daniel Duncan
1896 Robert Boyd Powers
1897 Harold Edward Cloke
1898 David Lamme Stone
1899 Albert N. McClure
1900 Richard Morgan Thomas
BTW the bottom section of the class is known as the immortals. All those at the bottom. (i think the bottom 1/2 or 1/3)
So, please, state those requirements.
“Zebulon Montgomery Pike Inge”
That’s a whole lotta name that guy had.
I base my statement on knowing several Cadets who are currently there. They are rather disappointed with the level of work that is required.
Last summer I ran across an ROTC Cadet at WP who was participating in summer field training. I asked him what he thought about the training. He looked around to make sure no one was within ear shot and told me that his ROTC field training was much more challenging.
The last-place graduate from medical school is called a Doctor. :=)
Point well made........touche’ to boot.
I’ve been stationed down-range three deployments with the better-ranked graduates in the classes, and I’ll take a ROTC grad any day.
....and works in a Doc-In-The-Box...Weekends....Night Shift