Princeton University, Princeton about a year ago
It was fall, and the New England air was crisp with the reminder of winter to come. On the Cannon Green, a spectacle unfolded as a group of men gathered, each with luggage of his own, and each sizing the other up. These were no ordinary men, a quick look at them reveals them to be men of good stock – well built, tall, well-groomed, clearly athletic – but something more as well. Instead of the jocularity one might expect amongst such a gathering of men, a subtle intense focus permeated the air.
These men were the first class to inaugurate the Theodore Roosevelt Institute for Advanced Study, hand-picked from across the country: each having earned the right to be here through a grueling and competitive battery of academic and physical tests. Not a single man stood here without the sponsorship of at least one Senator or Congressman, each of them the brightest young mind in his field. And while each of them was eager to prove himself, none of them knew exactly what his purpose here would be.
The quiet awkwardness of the moment was broken, as a detachment of four Naval Officers strode onto the Green, making its way directly to the small crowd, at its point strode Admiral Henry T. Mayo, Commander in Chief of the United States Fleet.
“Gentlemen,” he began without preamble, “you’re here because you’re the best minds, hell the best MEN, our nation has to offer. You have one task: The German Empire’s Wehrzeppelins – counter them. We’ve seen plenty from what’s left of the British fleet that our Navy as it stands will be shredded if we sail into European waters, and we have word that they are making ready to send a fleet of those damned things across the Atlantic. Follow me, we have work to do.”