Sunday, June 28, 2009

R-Day Eve

Our West Point Bound Son at His Going Away Party
One Year Later at Cadet Field Training

Today is R-Day Eve for the West Point New Cadets Class 2013, and many emotions are flooding my mind. It's been a full year since the family delivered our New Cadet to the land of all things gray, and the adrenaline of that 24 hours has become a part of our family history.

An entire auditorium of people gave my son a standing 'O' as he received the certificate stating he had received a West Point appointment. There were several going away parties with cakes, speeches , tributes, toasts, and flag waving. He was a regular hometown hero...
but all that would quickly change.

On R-Day, my son morphed from Hometown Hero to New Cadet and it is was made crystal-clear that New Cadet is the lowest form of life in the strange new world he had entered.

It was a tearful, emotional good-bye, as delivering any child to college would be..
multiplied by a thousand.

And we morphed quickly as well. We changed from tearful parents to...
New Cadet stalkers.

They (the New Cadets) were everywhere, being herded in small groups from one station to the next. We planted ourselves at a strategic crossroad and, with binoculars and video camera in hand...
the stalking began.

Our New Cadet loaded with gear and sporting his new BCGs (BCG = Birth Control Glasses) was
herded by our vantage point into the barber shop and out again. The transformation was...

Mom's voice can be heard on the family video saying,
Moms everywhere could be seen crying...
especially after seeing the haircuts and glasses.

Soon we were lined along the street waiting for a glimpse of our New Cadet at the R-Day Parade and Oath Ceremony.
Dad spotted him as he was marching away and was so overcome with pride that he gave a "Go, Kinley!" shout-out.
I saw Clayton's trademark 'smirk' as he continued to stare straight ahead. It was the last time I would see him for a long time, and I lived off that smirk for the rest of the summer.

Next, they herded the Class of 2012 into the Mess Hall. The doors were closed with a ceremonial bang....
West Point's way of saying, "Show's over folks. Nothing more to see. They are 'our' New Cadets now."

The summer was full of silence. I wrote him every day, but received little back. Only the fill-in-the blank letters I had composed were returned. Meanwhile, he spent the summer chewing 5 times a bite, doing push-ups for every conceivable offense, and trying to be as invisible as possible. We lived for the three 10 minute phone calls.
And, in the end, purchased two plane tickets to New York in August for his Acceptance Day weekend to witness firsthand his upgrade from New Cadet to Cadet and Plebe.

Once he got settled into the barracks with his own landline, and we could talk to him, a lot of the anxiety began to fade. He didn't fly home for Thanksgiving, so Christmas leave was a joyous homecoming full of friends and non-stop activity.

We flew up again in March for Plebe Parent Weekend, he spent Spring Leave in Colorado skiing with a friend, we prayed all spring for him to pass Calculus, and, the next time we see him...
Dad is pinning his Airborne Wings on his uniform!

This has been a year full of growth both for our Cadet and for us as parents letting go of our first child. He has grown from a boy to a man, independent from us and thriving in an incredible environment.

Tomorrow when a thousand families will be living their R-Day, my Cadet will be shooting from tanks at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He has already had a summer full of jumping out of airplanes, being in the field for days at a time, blowing open buildings, shooting all kinds of guns, and
preparing to be an Army Officer.


  1. What a great "remembery" piece! I didn't get to take Steve (Pepper's son) to Ft. Benning for basic, but I did get to see him graduate. Quite a pride-filled moment.

    Just think of how you'll feel in 2 years! Now, you just need to make sure he finds a southern girl -- that's VERY important!

  2. Bless his heart! You must be so proud of him!

  3. Ah, the military.... McDaddy has 18 years in. I enjoyed this post so much!! Congrats to your kiddo for getting the appointment. Oh, and I haven't told you, but I love the yellow (it is very cheerful and Summer-y!)

  4. Bev,
    Thanks for your sweet comment! I have actually gone and read your blog before, but until recently, wasn't sure how to "follow" blogs. I used to use another blog site and then switched everything over to this one, which I like alot. Love your blog! It's so nice having other WP momma friends! Look forward to getting to know you better through FB and Hillcrest Cottage! By the way, what company is your son in for CFT?

  5. You must be one proud Mama!!

    What a wonderful post. I love the fill in the blank letters. That's a great idea.

    Congratulations to you and your son!

  6. This post gave me a lump in my throat from the first sentence.

    What a proud mama you must be! I cannot imagine my 11 year old being able to go off to the military, and yet I know that day of leaving the nest will come all to soon!

  7. Oh wow........... what a year it's been for ALL of you! What a transformation too - amazing!

    Meg :)

  8. Precious memories! Isn't God good? :)
    I love the smirk part.

  9. Bev, I have so enjoyed reading your blog... And, per your request, I am now an official follower. Sammy and I love reading about your "hero".... We BOTH shed a few tears watching the r-day video... We appreciate the sacrifice of the hero and his parents.

    Okay, so since you've inspired me to start a blog of my own, please follow. (And maybe give me a few tips on how to make my blog more aesthetically pleasing).