It’s odd to me to think of Fleet Admiral (4-star) Chester Nimitz as a barefoot boy or tiny babe born February 24, 1885 in Fredericksburg, Texas…but even great men start out small.
Nimitz’s father died six months before he was born, so his German-born grandfather became a great influence in his life. It was his grandfather, a former seaman and later a Texas Ranger, who taught him that life, like the sea, is “a stern taskmaster. The best way to get along with either is to learn all you can, then do your best and don’t worry–especially about things over which you have no control.” Perhaps this was the source of one of Admiral Nimitz’s own quotes: “God grant me the courage not to give up what I think is right even though I think it is hopeless.” Surely in his own family, as in this part of Texas, “uncommon valor was a common virtue.”
Nimitz originally harbored hopes of winning a slot at West Point and becoming an Army officer, but each congressman gets only one appointment, and the position from his district was already filled. Congressman James Slayden told him that he still had one appointment available, though, for the U. S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. Would Chester like to compete for that opportunity? Convinced that this was the only way he would be able to attend college, young Nimitz agreed and studied hard. He earned the appointment and continued to work hard, graduating with distinction in January 1905, seventh in his class of 114.
Be sure to click over to the link to learn more about Admiral Nimitz life and career, or, if you make a trip to Fredericksburg, you can visit the Admiral Nimitz Museum at the National Museum of the Pacific War.