A powerful image of a Haitian West Point cadet on his graduation day comes just a few days short of Memorial Day.
Second Lt. Alix Schoelcher Idrache stood with his cap in hand and tears streaming down his face during the commencement ceremony at West Point in New York on Saturday, as he graduated along with 950 classmates.
Army Staff Sgt. Vito T. Bryant snapped a picture of the newly graduated 2nd lieutenant during a poignant moment and had it posted on West Point’s Facebook page, where it has been viewed numerous times.
One of the reasons for his instant fame is Idrache’s humble background. An immigrant from Haiti, the hardworking Caribbean worked his way through the nation’s most prestigious military schools, earned his U.S. citizenship and served for two years as an enlisted soldier with the Maryland Army National Guard.
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“I woke up this morning and found my face all over Facebook and with it myriad of amazing comments about my accomplishments,” Idrache wrote Tuesday on 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.”
On the school’s Instagram post, Idrache explained why the moment brought him to tears.
“At this moment, I was overwhelmed with emotions. Three things came to mind and led to those tears. The first is where I started. I am from Haiti and never did I imagine that such honor would be one day bestowed on me,” wrote Idrache. “The second is where I am. Men and women who have preserved the very essence of the human condition stood in that position and took the same oath.”
“The third is my future,” Idrache continued. “Knowing that one day I will be a pilot is humbling beyond words. 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. To me, that is the greatest honor. Once again, thank you.”
Now Idrache is set to begin the next phase of his career and train to become a pilot.