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Wesley Clark was born in 1944 in Chicago, Illinois, the only child of Benjamin and Veneta Kanne, a lawyer and a bank secretary. When Clark was not quite four years old, his father died. His mother then decided to move to Little Rock, Arkansas, where Clark’s maternal grandparents lived. His mother eventually remarried in November 1954 to Victor Clark.
He attended Little Rock’s public schools, except in tenth grade he went to Castle Heights Military Academy in Tennessee, because the Little Rock Board of Education decided shut down the city’s two high schools in 1958 rather than desegregate. When he returned to Little Rock for his junior year, he helped the swim team win the state championship. Even though he could have gotten a full scholarship to Harvard, Clark was set on going to West Point. He “wanted the challenge, the leadership, the outdoor life, the adventure.” And when he enrolled at West Point at the age of 17, he was entering an institution that had educated two men he admired, President Dwight D. Eisenhower and General Douglas MacArthur. He excelled at West Point, eventually graduating first in his class.
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