Losses before the game even starts

This year has been one of losses, some grave (thousands killed by COVID-19) and some not-so-serious (name any part of normal, everyday life). So it’s not surprise that the USAFA Prep School Class of 2021 already has losses lined up.

When you have a kid at a military academy, sometimes the best thing you have is anticipation. When my son earned his appointment to the Naval Academy, we eagerly anticipated I Day. When that went sideways, we anticipated Plebe Parents Weekend, then a football weekend in Annapolis, then Thanksgiving break, and so on.,

U.S. Air Force Academy – (U.S. Air Force photo/Trevor Cokley)

And so it was when my daughter earned her appointment to the USAFA Prep School. Never mind that she lost Sports Night or her senior gymnastics season or a chance to attend America’s Best Prom or a graduation ceremony. We looked forward to her I Day, even though it was much more straightforward that the one at USNA. We looked forward to the plane ride, lounging by the hotel pool, allowing our daughter to pick out the spots for meals.

And we began to anticipate everything else – Parents Weekend over Labor Day weekend, fall break in October, probably a visit in between. But, like much of 2020, we were told we’d be losing those, too. No parents weekend. No fall break. In fact, it seems likely the Preppies won’t get off the Academy grounds until they leave for home on Thanksgiving break … and finish the semester remotely.

The standard military response is that it will make them tougher, stronger, better prepared for the mission they are embarking upon. Yeah, fair enough, I guess. It’s just that life at a military academy – for student and family – is challenging, to say the least. Those things you can celebrate and cherish, the things you look forward to, make it just a little bit easier. And the Class of 2021 and the families won’t have many of those.

So it’ll be a difficult start to a difficult journey. This class will have to earn its wings in a way no other class before it has done.

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