I had the privilege of being able to attend March back yesterday, riding with other parents met through the local parents club list serve. Meeting them just added to the wonderful experience. Thank you WP. Org for letting me know March back was something I wanted to see, how to dress, how to act, and putting other parents within reach! Practicality said there was no point in riding 5 hours one way to probably not even see my new cadet, but there was more to it than that. I wanted to see all the young men and women, my daughter's new family. I wanted to share in the experience even in a limited way and be proud for every one. It was worth every toll, every second of the ride. We stood on Washington near Lee Street so we were able to see them as they turned the coroner and processed down the main drag. They looked tired at first, but as the cheering started and the posters were held high we saw smiles, glances, heads up a little higher. We cheered for the Honor Company, ooohed and awwed over the banner, and just tried to be there and be happy and loud for each one marching by. We would quietly ask "what company is this?" as the guidons were stuck together and someone would quietly answer, sometimes cadre. Then we would cheer for that company specifically as they went past. Of course I looked for mine, but didn't see her. I had a poster with encouragement for all on it, but her special stuffed animal, garbed in a tiny WP shirt, was wired to it so I hoped she saw me.
After cheering for the old grads, we crossed the street and hurried toward the Superintendent's house to see if there was any activity there. As I was walking I realized my NC's company was near so I looked through them as I passed, searching for the one particularly mine where I had seen her R day. No luck. I paused to look at all with happiness for them. They had just accomplished what was for many the hardest thing they had ever done in their lives. They "Beat the Beast", as I saw on one sign. As I'm looking, there is my NC, right in front of me, smelling and looking just like the rest! I called her sports number and got a sideways smile. I walked the rest of the way down Washington on the sidewalk across from her. No need to talk or distract her; it was enough just to be there. There were people and posters all along the route. As they passed the fire station, there was rock music and the ladder from the fire truck was extended across the street with signs and ribbons attached. In front of the superintendent's house were media and a stand with dignitaries cheering.
Just like every one else I stood and stared at them as they ate their breakfast sitting in front of Washington Hall. (My NC wrote me early on they needed to adjust to being tourist attractions and here were all the families doing the same thing!) She was still in front so I was able to see her clearly and all the friends with whom she was talking and laughing. After food there was much smiling, waving and nonverbal communication between the NCs and the proud family and friends behind the sidewalk. Parents pointed out their NC to other families around them and each NC was special. All cadences, quiet antics and pushups were met with cheers and clapping from all. Parents were again waving flags and signs. It was a festival!
Orders were given, food put away, and companies quickly reformed. Much improved from the marching attempts we saw on R. Day! The upperclassmen from the academic companies marched onto the grassy area between the sidewalk and the Hall, guidons flowing. With only a few stragglers, they broke from their CBT companies and very smartly reformed in their academic companies. Beast was over. It was very moving as they briskly marched away, to showers hopefully, and to the next phase of this amazing experience.
The marvelous day just continued. After saying good-bye to my new parent friends and arriving home I saw there were new pictures on line. One page was my NC's company. She was in 2 and 1 other was her, front and center. (I couldn't help thinking of the lovely and delicate creature in the prom picture of only 10 weeks ago, gold heeled sandals, satiny fitted gown, hair piled in curls on her head...) A few hours later she called, happy it was over. Her new upper-class team had provided snacks, phone, and time for a longer, second shower. She was not with anyone from her CBT company, "scrambled" because of core sports, but she didn't mind. Phones and computer are coming, the new group seems "awesome", and she's all ready for the next challenge. I think I am too.
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