Christine Kamon, a tennis player, a golfer, a yoga devotee, understands the life her son has chosen. "He thinks he's invincible," she says, sitting in her home. "They all do. The reality is that he'll go over there, and you hope and pray he comes home. Statistically, he should come home. But every day there are people who get in their cars to run errands and don't come home." She pauses for a long moment and looks away, in the direction of a wall where a silver sword hangs, the 2002 Lieut. Ray Enners Memorial Alumni Saber, awarded to her son for picking up the most ground-balls for West Point in last year's Army-Navy game. Lieutenant Enners, class of '67, died in Vietnam.
On March 22 the Army lacrosse team played its first game since the war in Iraq began, against Ohio State in Columbus. Jack Emmer, the West Point coach, entered the game with 300 career victories, tying him with former Massachusetts coach Dick Garber for the Division I record. Emmer was worried about things other than the record. He was thinking about soldiers in Iraq. His players were too.
There might have been 200 fans on hand that day, Mike's parents and kid sister, Emily, among them. It was not a grand occasion. The national anthem was piped in on a loudspeaker. The afternoon was gray, breezy, raw. Army took a 2-0 lead, one of the goals coming from Kamon. The Kamon cheering section shrieked and clapped, but the family's joy was brief. The Buckeyes won 11-8.
In defeat, Emmer huddled with his players on the field. "Chins up," the coach said, shouting to be heard over the wind. "That was a great effort today." Kamon walked off the field, his arm draped across the shoulder of a teammate. The cadets changed into their dress grays and headed home, to West Point. Emmer would get the record 10 days later in a 17-14 victory over Lehigh, and last Saturday the Black Knights stunned eighth-ranked Rutgers, 9-8.
The game that matters, Army-Navy, is not far off now, and shortly after that comes commencement. On graduation day, each student chooses an officer—a mentor, a teacher—to administer the Oath of Office. The senior lacrosse players, a band of brothers, have chosen the junior varsity lacrosse coach, Lieut. Col. Tom Endres, to administer the oath. Endres graduated from West Point in 1980. He played four years of varsity lacrosse. He served in Somalia. He does not have superhuman qualities, Kamon says. What he has is a profound and contagious sense of teamwork and duty.
On May 31, Kamon will raise his right hand before Lieutenant Colonel Endres and the Army lacrosse team and say these words:
"I, Michael Mark Kamon, having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, in the grade of Second Lieutenant, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; so help me God."