Former Ag Secretary John Block –

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the Renewable Fuels Association, Monsanto, and John Deere. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary—

This week, I attended my West Point class reunion. Memories came flooding back. I had been out of Knoxville High School only a month. I climbed on a train in Galesburg, Illinois – on to Chicago – on to New York City and a bus to West point. An important chapter in my life began on that day. We started with two months of intense training and conditioning referred to as “Beast Barracks.” It was a shock.

School started September 1 — every day with a reveille at 5:45 am – dressed, standing at attention in formation. We marched to breakfast. After morning classes, we marched to lunch. More classes and we marched to dinner. Upon return to barracks, we did homework. That routine went on without much change for 4 years. On Sundays, we even were marched to church. On Saturdays, we marched in a parade after barracks inspection. Plebe year, we were on post for a whole year. We couldn’t even go home at Christmas. Our life was all about discipline, structure. Duty, honor, country, and our honor circle – a cadet does not lie, cheat, or steal nor tolerate those who do.

After my first year, I found something that provided some relief to the system. I made the West Point Debate Team, and was privileged to travel with the Team and compete in debate tournaments at different universities. I loved it. What a relief.

Finally, on “June week” 1957, I graduated a 2nd Lieutenant – 55 years ago. There you have just some of the memories.

The last event of our reunion was a memorial Service at the Cadet Chapel to honor my classmates that have passed on – some lost in the war but most from natural causes. We also honored all of the members of our armed services that have faithfully defended our country over the past 200 plus years. Good timing, since Monday is Memorial Day.

I want to close with just a few words from the “Cadet Prayer”:

O God, our Father, Thou Searcher of human hearts, help us draw near to Three in sincerity and truth….Strengthen and increase our admiration for honest dealing and clean thinking….Encourage us in our endeavor to live above the common level of life. Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong….Endow us with courage that is born of loyalty to all that is noble and worthy….Help us to maintain the honor of the Corps untarnished and unsullied, and to show forth in our lives the ideals of West Point in doing our duty to Thee and to our Country. All of which we ask in the name of the Great Friend and Master of all. –Amen

In closing, I would encourage you to access my website which archives my radio commentaries dating back 10 years and will go back 20 years when complete. Check on what I said back then. Go to

Until next week, I am John Block in Washington. is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.