Thursday, April 9, 2015

Recognition Day 2015

As The Citadel Class of 18 looks toward their Recognition Day this Saturday I know some of their thoughts.  Thirty Eight years ago it was the Recognition Day for the Class of 81.  I wasn't sure how it would go.  There was some worry if I was physically able to handle what was coming.  The 4th Class system was coming to an end.  On one hand it was with relief that after that day there would be no more bracing, no more yelling,  no more MRI with the 1Sgt, Ahead was relaxing times on the gallery, making friendships with those who spent the first part of the year turning eliminating our individuality and the last part of the year building us back up as a team (though some of my classmates would disagree with that last part).  But I wasn't sure entirely  sure some of those friendships would really happen.

The day came and boy was it a day.  At the end  of a very physical time and after a large number of pushups we were standing at attention (or at least trying to do it between gasps of breath and swaying back and forth).   The Company CO announced that the 4th Class System had ended.   Then started the long line of first name introductions and handshakes.  Dan, Joe, Brian, another Joe, George, Kevin, Rich, John, Robert and many more.

Somewhere along the way it became a blur.  Not because I passed out but because the emotion hit me.   I had survived. I had gone through an experience that none of my high school classmates had done.   The person who walked through the sallyport in August 1977 with a flattop was no more.  In his place was someone who had matured and was ready to handle whatever came his way.  It wasn't sweat in my eyes but tears of joy and thanks.  The cadre, company leadership and even every company member, had done their job well.  Now it was our turn to continue the training for the next class and to continue our development over the next 3 years.   Those lessons in knob year and the next 3 have well positioned all of us to face what life sends our way.

For the Class of 2018.... Your Recognition Day is different than ours.  That is ok.  You  live in a different time.  Change is important for people and an institution to remain relevant.  Embrace your day.  You will be exhausted.   Many before you have survived Recognition Day, so will you.

Don't hold grudges toward any upperclassmen, even those who did treat you unfairly.  Learn from that and don't be like them.  Become their friends....With very few exceptions they were doing what they thought was right.  Learning how to get over things and turn these people into friends and comrades will be a talent that will serve you well in the future.

What we learn in knob year is how to "play the game" and WIN for the team.  Not many people know how to do that.  It is great satisfaction in the business world to put that to use and win not for self but for the team/company.

Thank your parents and those that have helped you during this year.  They have sacrificed so that you can have this experience and are also proud of your accomplishment.

Now on a personal note:  While, as an alumnus, I am proud of every knob that has made it through the year there is one in particular that I am especially proud of.  She has done well and approached situations with a "can do" attitude even when they were not  what she expected.   She is an awesome young lady and will be a leader  with or without rank.

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