One of the 17 Americans killed in the Parkland, Florida high school shooting was laid to rest on Tuesday. Peter Wang was just fifteen years old, but he died a hero, in the service of his fellow man.
When young men and women dream of becoming a cadet at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, they know they have their work cut out for them–the application process is daunting and beyond competitive. Peter Wang had been dreaming of attending West Point for most of his short life. In death, he would be invited to join the ranks of the storied institution.
Wang, who was killed while trying to help classmates escape from the gunman, was posthumously accepted to the USMA on Tuesday “for his heroic actions on Feb. 14, 2018” and then buried in his Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) uniform.
The USMA released a statement on Tuesday, it read “It was an appropriate way for USMA to honor this brave young man…West Point has given posthumous offers of admission in very rare instances for those candidates or potential candidates whose actions exemplified the tenets of Duty, Honor and Country.”
A uniformed Army officer hand-delivered the acceptance letter to Wang’s parents at the funeral home in Coral Springs, Florida, which served as the site of his intensely emotional funeral.
When the shooting began at his high school in Parkland, Wang pulled open a door, allowing dozens of classmates, teachers and staffers to escape. Instead of running to safety with them, he stood holding the door open for more innocents. He was shot and killed manning his post in his JROTC uniform.
West Point applicants are held to high admission standards and a rigorous selection process. They are expected to show high academic achievement, exhibit exemplary leadership potential and have a strong physical aptitude. And that is just to clear the hurdle of the pre-candidate questionnaire.
If deemed competitive, applicants then must secure a nomination, normally from a United States Congressman or a Senator. This part of the application gauntlet is even more competitive, even more selective. Friends and family believe Peter Wang would have made it to the top of the selection process had he survived to pursue it.
The USMA believed he would have earned his place at West Point as well, showing all of the qualities one hopes for in a leader, a soldier, a human being. Two of Wang’s other JROTC unit members, Alaina Petty, 14, and Martin Duque, 14, were also killed in the horrific shooting.
Wang would have been a member of the Class of 2025. Until Valhalla young man.
**All three JROTC cadets that died at Parkland are being awarded the Medal of Heroism by the United States Army.
Featured image courtesy of Twitter