April in Annapolis is a semi-sweet thing. Trees in bloom, warm sunlight, the excitement of the upcoming croquet match on the green and fragrant lawn — all this a solemn setting for the annual lecture honoring LCDR Erik S. Kristensen, alumnus of both the neighboring Naval Academy and St. John’s (AGI’00), who was killed in 2005 while leading a rescue mission in Afghanistan.
A fellow Johnnie and Navy SEAL, Lt. Michael Zampella, was inspired to create the lecture after learning that Kristensen, whose reputation was promulgated through the book The Lone Survivor, had graduated from St. John’s too. After Zampella got permission and support from Kristensen’s parents, the first Kristensen Memorial lecture was held in 2013; by 2018, the lecture was officially incorporated into the Formal Lecture Series. Each of the memorial lectures are co-sponsored by the Naval Academy and focus on the interconnection of the military with political theory, history, and other liberal arts, topics sure to interest both Johnnies and mids, as well as their families. More information on this year’s lecture, and lectures of years past, can be found here.
“Erik’s story is a great story of selflessness,” says Zampella, as quoted in Kimberly Uslin’s article. “I’ve talked to a lot of people who knew him well and went to school with him at various stages, and he was always known throughout his life as the guy who was helping someone else out. This [lecture] helps keep his memory alive, in all his particularities.”
So come April 27th, we will dress ourselves for the party of the season. We will cheer at the match; we will sing the anthems we know; we will dance. And we will remember a serviceman, one of the many who have provided for such a peaceful, pleasant day, and one who may lie buried,
But this we know, the obstacle that checked
And tripped the body, shot the spirit on
Further than target ever showed or shown.
— Robert Frost, “A Soldier”