When Caroline Miller was a high school freshman, her teacher warned her about West Point.
“She said it was a waste of my potential,” recalled Miller, eyes twinkling at the thought of her ancestors rolling in their graves:
Her grandfather, Maj. Gen. Frank Dickson Miller, Class of 1938, served in Japan, Panama and Vietnam.
Her great-grandfather, Maj. Gen. Fay Brink Pricket, Class of 1916, led military tribunals against German Nazis after World War II.
Her family’s line of West Point graduates spans seven unbroken generations, from her father, retired Capt. Jeremy King Miller, all the way back to 1836, when a Kansas bugler named Israel Carle Woodruff was commissioned under Commander in Chief Andrew Jackson.
West Point officials say the family’s continuous streak of alumni is the Academy’s longest.
“It’s pretty sweet,” said Miller, 22, whose home in Highland Falls could double as an American museum of warfare. There are officers’ oil portraits watching from every wall. West Point’s motto is engraved on the mantle: Duty, Honor, Country. In curio cabinets lay centuries-old medals.
Miller, who graduated Saturday as a second lieutenant, will undoubtedly collect some trappings of her own.
She’ll marry an ’08 graduate next month, then head to a base in Hawaii as an engineer. When she deploys, she’ll handle everything from mapmaking to route clearance, bulldozers to bomb-sniffing dogs.
“I couldn’t sit behind a desk,” she said.
There are those who don’t approve of her decision to fall in with the family business, but Miller says the choice was about more than her lineage.
“There’s something to be said about a group of people willing to set their lives aside for a higher purpose,” she said.
“The family legacy is not West Point. It’s about service.”