For two hundred years the portals of West Point and the uniforms of officers and students have been emblazoned with the eagle of cowardice and the "bar sinister" of illegitimacy! True, the eagle need only turn his head, from right to left to signify valor, the sword of Mars had only to be changed to a "dexter" diagonal to gain Kipling's benefit of clergy, but the fact remains that nobody knew it until two years ago when a war department official realized the mistake. Nobody knew it, that is, who was in a position to have it changed or to mention the mistake to those who might. Imagine the countless distinguished foreign visitors who have been escorted in honor through the gates of the Academy, and whose second alphabet is heraldry. The permanent twinkle that possessed Papa Joffre's eye as he returned to New York down the Hudson at last finds explanation in the "goods" he had on General Pershing and his fellow graduates.
But in one way West Point was lucky. The whole army may well drop to its knees and offer sacrifice and thanksgiving to Mars that the person who discovered the mistake was a friend. Imagine the result if an Annapolis man had seen it first. The age-old rivalry between army and navy would have ended then and there with the middles on top, chanting a newly-found epithet, perfectly precise and utterly unanswerable.