By Melony Daley
A year ago….we waited with bated breath for each minute, hour and day to pass. This milestone meant so many things would change, potentially for the better, but for now this weekend held a world of stress, heartache, mental hardship, physical effort and strife for our cadets. If they could only survive recognition intact, life would be so much easier. After months of running the strips, holding their backpack in their left hand, and wearing military uniform everywhere they went, our cadets would be recognized by the upper classes. Hello civvies and leisure walks. They would hear their first names again. Stress levels would drop and the cadets could breathe a little easier and by extension we parents could breathe a little easier. We could start to think of our young adults as living on a campus versus a military installation…even if it truly was a military installation. It’s our small delusions that help us deal with the hundreds of miles of separation, after all. As all cadets and parents do, we leave freshman year with memories, some wonderful and some not so wonderful. We remember BCT and the first Parents’ Weekend as if it were some long distant memory. Recognition, however, was truly only a year ago.
I vividly remember thinking of my cadet constantly during the first two days of recognition, wishing I could talk to him, praying that he was having fun in a weird sort of way, thinking how much different his experience at a military academy was from our experience as active duty Army almost two full decades ago. I also vividly remember the moment I found out that he had not finished recognition and had in fact suffered a concussion as a result of hitting his head on the cement when they ran up an incline in full military gear. I remember wanting to jump on an airplane so that I could look into his eyes and make sure he was okay and wanting to call and speak to his chain of command. I didn’t of course. The adage, “This, too, shall pass,” is very true. He survived. He finished the rest of his freshman year and has come back stronger and more determined than ever to succeed. This year is so different. It began with a quick and fleeting thought: “I wonder if recognition is this weekend or next?” I let it go and didn’t think about it again until Sunday came around and I wanted to hear his voice. I took a chance to text him and ask if he was planning to call. I was pleasantly surprised when the phone rang not two minutes later. We spoke for 20 minutes and I asked a ton of questions about the difference between last year and this year and his role in recognition.
Instead of dread, I experienced joy. Joy that he was doing okay, his grades were looking up, and that in less than three weeks he would be sleeping in his bed here at home. The difference of a year…. Our cadets are experiencing recognition in a variety of ways. Some sophomores are assisting in the beating of the freshman, others are peer counselors and are there to support in the mental and emotional stability of the freshmen, and yet others are not participating. Instead of worrying about being recognized or not, our cadets are living on the other side and ready to usher the next class into a bright new world full of possibility and hope; our cadets are worrying about grades and classes, talking to parents, and living life outside of the all-encompassing milestone of recognition.
We thank all the parents who supported this milestone last year, and we thank you for your continuous support as the cadets get ready to reach their next milestone – Commitment Dinner!