October 27-30, 2000
Click the Play Button - "Welcome to My World"
I never thought I could witness such a beautiful sight as my cadet in full dress grey--he actually allowed me to hug and kiss him in front of Ike's statue at 6 pm Sat night! As the tears of awe and joy welled up in my eyes, I was able to contain my emotions long enough to tell him how beautiful he looked and he chuckled.
All of the sights and sounds and experiences were magnificent--from the Open House on Friday to the barracks tour, banquet and hop on Saturday.
Since this odyssey began for our family just 4 short months ago, our cadet has changed and grown, but we've changed too. The pomp and circumstance of WP is not really what it's all about--it's about teaching leadership to our young people so that the country they inherit is as safe and free as the one they were born into.
As we drove home Sunday night, leaving the swirling snow flurries, my husband and I were treated to a dramatic and gorgeous sunset over the Allegheny Mountains in Pennsylvania. It seemed to go on forever since we were driving west----and I couldn't help thinking about my cadet son busily preparing for a "Thayer week." He now, while still our first-born son, is America's son, and I hope and pray that he gets to view more spectacular and long sunsets than the one his father and I were privileged to see last night.
Joseph & Michelle Benvenuti
We returned home very early this morning from what I'm sure will be one of the most memorable weekends of our lives. It was wonderful. It started early Friday morning with a tour of the Uniform Factory. Although it was very crowded first thing (we didn't even get into the briefing room), I could hear most of what was said and then very much enjoyed seeing the various rooms (many sewing machines) where the uniforms are made.
We then visited the Reception Center at Eisenhower which wasn't nearly as crowded. We got information on the various branches our cadets can go into, talked to a couple of TACs, checked out the merchandise tables, and just generally wandered around. Everyone was very friendly and helpful.
Continued the day with the Superintendent's Quarters Tour which was very interesting. Of course, I have yet to find something that doesn't interst me out there. Many magnificent pieces of furniture with historical significance. The garden is very impressive. Found out from one of the cooks that the Supe's favorite dishes are Lobster Thermidor and Beef Tenderloin. They prepare over 150 formal dinner parties each year for just a few to over 200 (in the garden).
The afternoon was a flurry of academic open houses. I must say that those instructors credentials are all very impressive. They all knew our son and spoke freely about his performance in the class (mostly favorable thank goodness). They would be an asset to any major Ivy League University. We took the opportunity to sit in on a History Class where some very animated discussions arose. I learned a few things about the Mongols and Huns. I loved that class.
All of the plebes had to practice for the parade after classes on Friday, so we joined about a thousand other parents to watch. When we asked our cadet how long it woud be, he said as long as it took to get it right. I found that amusing. We had dinner in the Mess Hall (which we almost missed because our cadet had business to attend to). It was buffet style and very relaxed. We enjoyed chatting with a yuk at our table about his plans for the weekend.
Saturday started with the Leader Team Brief at Eisenhower. It was quite informative. Their professionalism and obvious love for our cadets shows in everything that they do and say. I felt very honored to even have the opportunity to be there. After the Brief we proceeded to the bleachers on the Plain for the Cadet Review. Again it was very impressive. We met for lunch at the Cadet Mess. It was very hurried as our cadet again had business to attend to.
The TAC orientation and Barracks Open House took much of our afternoon. The cadets put on a little skit. It was quite funny and entertaining. They are so talented! I greatly appreciated the opportunity to see our cadet's room. As we were warned, it looked nothing like his room at home. He proudly displayed his neatly displayed textbooks, organized closet and dresser drawers, and snugly tucked in blankets. Also explained the rigors of preparing a room for SAMI. We were all grinning from ear to ear and proud as punch. We spent quite a bit of time taking pictures and wandering around.
By then it was time to go get ready for the Banquet and Ball. We sat with his TAC and roommates with families. The dinner conversation was most enjoyable. He presented me with a rose before dinner. It was all so impressive. The cadets all looked so dashing in their dress grays and were so happy to be with their families and significant others. Like something out of a fairy tale. If I didn't mention it before that Mess Hall is a marvel of efficiency. I would love to see how they do it all. We took the bus up to the Ball, got our picture taken and hung out for awhile.
Sunday was a bit more relaxed. There was church in the morning, then a light breakfast. Our cadet's sponsor had invited us up for lunch, so we gladly accepted. What a wonderful families. They open their homes and their hearts to our cadets. We had a very enjoyable couple of hours. There was then only time to relax a bit before we had to head off for the airport. It's never easy to say goodbye. At least there were no tears this time. We all agreed it is getting better.
I hope this rather lengthy description of our PPW helps those of you who couldn't make it. The weather was great. I love the Fall. The best part, in my opinion, was the opportunity to see the barracks, speak with instructors, visit with the TAC at dinner and the sponsor's family; and, oh yes, the huge smiles that our cadet and we couldn't seem to wipe off our faces.
Heartfelt thanks to this forum for the invaluable information. It allowed us to maximize our brief time out there with our cadet. I would've been lost without all of you. Thank you!
Plebe-Parent Weekend for the Class of 2004
The upperclass cadets couldn't leave West Point fast enough this past weekend. The annual Plebe-Parent Weekend celebration was occurring and no upperclass cadet wanted to be mistaken for a plebe or have to entertain questions from confused family and friends of the plebes. For the fourth class cadets, the wait for the weekend seemed eternal. When October 27th finally arrived, the fourth class cadets took over leadership of the Corps and participated in their first special weekend at West Point. The weekend ended on October 29th with the plebes feeling proud of their performance and guests feeling that they understood West Point and the life of a cadet a little more.
Most guests arrived early on Friday despite the fact that the cadets had classes all day. The Academy provided activities that kept the guests busy until the plebes were free. At the end of the duty day, the fourth class did have several hours to visit with their guests; they could even go off post if they desired. Up until that point, many facilities were open for touring that aren't open to visitors on a regular basis. Along with touring the Superintendent's Quarters, guests could see how their son or daughter's uniform was made at the Cadet Uniform Factory, or how so many cadets clothes are cleaned at the Laundry and Dry Cleaning Plant. Those guests willing to brave the cold autumn air could even take a cruise on the Hudson River aboard the USMA Ferry. Some very significant and historical places open to the public included the Thayer Award Room, Nininger Hall and the Cadet Mess. A Reception Center at Eisenhower Hall provided details of all these activities and served as a great place for anxious family and friends to mingle together and share stories about their fourth class cadets' experience of West Point so far.
Several more events occurred on Saturday at Eisenhower Hall. The day started with a Leader Team Welcome given by the Superintendent, the Commandant and the Dean. While family and friends attended this briefing, the fourth class cadets were busy putting the finished touches on their Full Dress Uniforms. The Plebe Review on the Plain allowed the plebes to show off how well they had mastered the technical aspects of drill. For those fourth class cadets in leadership positions for the weekend, there were special uniform concerns as they wore a red sash around their waist, had plumes in their tar bucket, and carried a saber in place of a rifle. The heavy winds across the Plain that day provided the added challenge of not losing a tar bucket to a particularly strong gust. After the parade and lunch, everyone was invited to a Tactical Officer Orientation and a Barracks Open House. The Department of Physical Education had ongoing demonstrations in Arvin Gym after the TAC presentation. Lastly, a formal Plebe-Parent Banquet and Hop took place in Washington Hall and Eisenhower Ballroom, respectively.
The speaker at the banquet was the Class of 2004 President, Cadet John Zdeb. A former 82nd Airborne soldier who spent last year at the USMA Preparatory School, CDT Zdeb talked about the highs and lows of Cadet Basic Training and the start of the academic semester for the plebes. He called the moment that the Class of 2004 walked across Blaik Field on R-Day the beginning of "a journey that will shape the rest of our lives." On behalf of the class, he thanked family and friends for their support. He also spoke to the class itself, stating that in learning to balance a rigorous lifestyle they had accomplished much; even so, they have "only begun the grand experience that is West Point" - the ultimate goal of which is to graduate and become leaders.
Plebe-Parent Weekend marks the first special weekend at West Point for the Class of 2004. Weekends still to come include Yearling Winter Weekend, 500th Night, Ring Weekend, 100th Night and Graduation Weekend. These weekends provide a way of marking time at the Academy, by recognizing important events for each class. Hopefully the guests this past weekend will continue to support the Class of 2004 through the three and a half more challenging years that remain for them at the Academy. The Class of 2004 has exhibited thus far that they understand the hard work and dedication needed to survive such a task. "For Country And Corps - 2004 !"
Jackie (Kalata) Whiteside '93
I welcome your comments at Rangersct@aol.com.
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