CADET MILLER HONORED
West Point sophomore Anthony Miller was many things to many people.
A cadet. A teammate. A friend. A son. A brother in Christ.
Miller touched many lives in his short time at West Point, and yesterday a large congregation of U.S. Military Academy students, officers and staff members paid their final respects to the 20-year-old who died unexpectedly on Friday.
"Lord, we want to thank you for blessing us with someone who knew the meaning of living life to the fullest," said senior Omari Thompson, a teammate of Miller's from the football and track and field teams. "We pray his spirit will continue to live on in each of us."
The Rev. Edson J. Wood presided over the 40-minute memorial ceremony held at the historic Cadet Chapel. More than 500 cadets, most attired in dress grays, took shelter from a stiff, cold wind off the Hudson River and filed down a single flag-draped aisle in the 92-year-old Gothic cathedral shortly before 4 p.m.
Organ music boomed off the towering ceilings before the memorial got under way. Soon thereafter, the single voice of Cadet Josephine Holmon punctuated a respectful silence with a moving rendition of "AMAZING GRACE."
In his invocation, Edson reflected on the many ways Miller touched people's lives. "We know these images will stay with us the rest of our life," Edson said.
Football coach Todd Berry, who was visibly shaken, said he was able to take solace from the fact Miller's mother, Veronica, was at peace because of her and her son's devotion to God. Berry harkened back to the Army-Navy game in December, the last one Miller would play in, and told a story that actually brought a laugh from congregation.
It was late in the game and Miller was standing next to Berry, when he should have been out on the field as part of the punt team. As it turns out, Miller gave up his spot to teammate Calvin Smith, who had missed much of the season.
"He had given that (spot) up to Calvin so he could have one more snap," Berry said. "He had a huge smile across his face because he didn't know if he was in trouble or not. I smiled back because I knew what he had done."
Senior Chad Jenkins, Miller's quarterback and company leader, echoed the thoughts of many.
"Today, I consider myself selfish because I want him back," Jenkins said.
Following a mass recital of the Cadet Prayer by Cadet John McFarland, it was Cadet Skip Boston's turn to call the roll from Company G-1. A half-dozen names were called when Boston called out, "Cadet Miller ... Cadet Anthony Miller ... Cadet Anthony Bruce Miller the second ..." With that, the sound of taps rang out through the cathedral.
Most of the cadets filed out quietly upon the conclusion of the service, but many stayed for additional prayers and grief support. A number of football players filed by, still crying from the service, while others hugged in the aisles and in the pews.
"He would have been the greatest soldier," Jenkins said Monday. "(It would be hard to) find a kid who is only a sophomore to lead the way he led. Any platoon in the army would be more than willing to give their life and follow him anywhere he wanted to go."
"I'm always going to miss him and think about the time we had together," said football and track teammate Aris Comeaux. "I was fortunate for God to have put him in my life the short time that he did, that I was able to learn something from it."
Written by: Ken McMillan