Anthony Tata’s graduation from high school did not launch him into the unknown. Tata’s ambitions had aimed high for some time as the son of teachers who served their communities as educators, a school board member and as a long term representative on the Virginia General Assembly law-making body. Tata himself laid his plans early on, and was accepted upon graduation into the United States Military Academy. USMA is also referred to as West Point, Army, The Academy or simply The Point. Located in West Point, New York, this four-year federal service academy has overlooked the Hudson River since cadets were first trained in artillery and engineering in what was then a garrison in 1794. West Point was constructed as a defensive garrison post in 1778 by Polish engineer and hero Tadeusz Kosciuszko. The Hudson River Chain and the high ground above a narrow S curve in the river was an excellent position for the Continental Army to stop British ships from sailing further up the river, which would have divided the Colonies. Commander Benedict Arnold of West Point committed an act of treason by trying to sell the fort to the enemy. Arnold’s treason prompted the Army to change the garrison’s name to Fort Clinton.
Anthony Tata’s alma mater, the United States Military Academy at West Point, was idle in the years after the Revolution. It wasn’t until 1801 that the newly inaugurated President Thomas Jefferson directed the establishment of plans to establish the Military Academy at West Point, appointing the first superintendent.
The humid subtropical climate of the Norfolk, Virginia birthplace of retired Brigadier General Anthony Tata is mitigated somewhat by the Chesapeake Bay, which introduces cooling breezes from the ocean. The MacArthur Memorial located in the Norfolk courthouse contains the tombs of United States Army General Douglas MacArthur and his wife, a source of inspiration to the young Tata. As the headquarters of the United States Fleet Forces Command (the Atlantic fleet) and the NATO Allied Command Transformation, Norfolk is economically supported by defense contracting, especially for shipbuilding and ship repair.
Nearly as important to today’s Norfolk are the three cargo ports which serve break-bulk and container type cargo shipments. Anthony Tata would have watched the bustle of the three port terminals which handled over 2 million TEUs and 475,000 tons of bulk cargo in 2006, the second busiest port on the eastern coast of the United States after the Port of New York. Norfolk is also the largest coal shipment point in the Northern Hemisphere, annually transporting 48 million tons. Recently, the new Nauticus cruise ship pier has brought renewed interest from cruise ship passengers in downtown shops, hotels, culture and restaurants and is becoming a growing part of Norfolk’s economy.
The significant bituminous coal deposits discovered in the Piedmont of Virginia continue to be an important part of Virginia’s economy today. Unfortunately for the birthplace of Anthony Tata, coal-fed power plants in mountainous areas today have added to the poor air quality of northern Virginia today, with Fairfax County having the worst air quality in the state.