A photograph taken of a soldier getting emotional at his graduation from the United States Military Academy at West Point has gone viral on social media.
Haitian-born Alix Idrache graduated from the renowned military academy at West Point, New York, on May 21 along with his class of 950 cadets, the Washington Post reported. During the commencement ceremony, Army Staff Sgt. Vito Bryant snapped a photo of Idrache standing at attention with tears rolling down his cheeks. He clutched his white, gold and black Army cadet hat in his gloved hand.
The photo of Second Lieutenant Idrache was posted to West Point's Facebook page May 24. It has since gone viral.
"I woke up this morning and found my face all over Facebook and with it a myriad of amazing comments about my accomplishments," Idrache wrote on Facebook the same day the photo was published, according to the Washington Post. "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."
Idrache also wrote a message in response to the photo on West Point's Instagram page, where it was also posted. In the message, he elaborated on his thoughts at the moment the photo was taken. As found on Instagram:
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. 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. Men who preserved the Union [during] a dark period of this country’s history. Men who scaled the face of adversity and liberated Europe from fascism … Women like CPT Griest, LT Haver, MAJ Jaster who rewrote the narrative and challenged the status quo to prove themselves worthy of being called Rangers.
According to his Instagram post, the third thing that moved the accomplished soldier to tears was his future. He plans to attend flight school in Fort Rucker, Alabama, shortly after graduation. His goal is to become a pilot.
Currently based in New Carrollton, Maryland, Idrache attended West Point after immigrating to the U.S. from Haiti. He has since earned his U.S. citizenship, and served for two years as an enlisted soldier with the Maryland Army National Guard. He was named a regimental commander at West Point in the summer of 2015.
When asked about his motivations for joining the U.S. military, Idrache told the Independent Journal Review that conditions in his home country inspired him to serve.
"When I was growing up, Haiti had to be demilitarized because the army was committing atrocities and it was corrupt," he said. "I’m not saying [the American] army is perfect and it has certainly endured some tough times with integration and the post Vietnam era. However, knowing that there are millions of men and women who are willing to give their most precious gift because they swear to protect and defend an idea, is very appealing to me."