The story behind this viral photo is one about chasing the ‘American Dream’

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(U.S. Army photo by: Staff Sgt. Vito T. Bryant)

On May 21, before nearly 1,000 white hats would be thrown high in the air at West Point’s graduation, a photographer captured a touching photo of a young man that would later go viral.

The photo captured a tearful, soon-to-be 2nd lieutenant who was graduating from one of the most prestigious military and educational institutions in the U.S.

The young man: Lt. Alix Schoelcher Idrache.

Idrache’s story is truly one about achieving the American Dream.

Idrache credits his father for playing a big role in his academic success. According to the U.S. Army, Idrache spent his teen years studying, remembering his father’s advice that education could be a ticket to a better future. Idrache’s father migrated to the U.S. from Port-au-Prince, Haiti in search of a better life for his family, and in 2009, Idrache joined him.

“My dad always said, ‘education is the only gift I can always give you, because I don’t have any anything material to give,'” said Idrache in an article on the U.S. Army’s official website.

Idrache joined the Maryland Army National Guard. It wasn’t until his high school sister brought home a West Point sticker and placed it on his laptop did he begin to think about the military academies. However, his chance of entering the U.S. Military Academy was slim.

Idrache said it was his platoon leader and the unit’s office administrator who changed his life and helped him through the lengthy process to complete his application. In 2012, Idrache left the National Guard and joined the 214th class of West Point cadets.

Idrache was given the Brigadier General Gerald A. Counts Memorial Award for earning the highest rating in Physics at his graduation. In July, Alix will enter the Army Aviation Center for Excellence at Fort Rucker, Alabama, to undergo training as a pilot.

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