James Winfred Cunningham
West Point, 1966
Be Thou At Peace
Posted by Ed Wright on May 13, 2009:
Jim and I got to know each other as firsties, late in our cadet careers. He amazed me with his savoir faire and unassuming manner, fully ready to fly off to Boston late one Saturday afternoon toward the end of March, solely on the basis of his own private pilot's license and whim. No wonder that the '66 Year Book would call this fellow Californian the Birdman of the Hudson! Barely 3 months later he would marry his lady, Annie, in a splendid wedding attended by many of us classmates in the Cadet Chapel, capped off by dancing until dawn. I departed for California, assignment in Hawaii and two years to the date of their wedding, arrival in Vietnam. Jim's and my paths never crossed again. Jim set off to become an Army aviator and achieved glory (Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart and 44 Air Medals among others) in an Assault Helicopter Company in Vietnam. Then, he and Annie left the Army in 1971 and set to soar to the heights of corporate success which they attained at the top of several companies. In both of them was a will to live life in such a way as always to set the example, achieve great and commendable goals and never to have to make apologies. In 2003, Jim had to fly off for the last time, but without his Annie. To his departure, I offer the eloquent conclusion to William Cullen Bryant's "Thanatopsis":
"So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan, that moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams."
And so you did, Jimmie. So you did.
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