One thing I’ve observed as a military academy parent is steady, relentless cycles of time. I Day arrives and BCT happens, leading to A Day. For each class, it’s all brand new. But to the institution and those familiar with it, it’s just part of the endless cycle.
And so it goes for the USAFA Class of 2025. They went through the shock of I Day, the seemingly endless drudgery of BCT, and set their sights on Recognition. Despite the fact that this has been going on for decades, it generated a lot of questions and anxiety among Doolies and parents alike.
The Facebook posts on the parents’ pages were a mix of “I’m so excited for my DS/DD, they can’t wait” and “My DS/DD is dreading this whole ordeal.” While this was my first go-round with Recognition, I feel safe in saying that these types of statements happen every year. Will all the Doolies get Recognized? What if mine doesn’t? What did you send in your Recognition box? I think I went overboard.
About this time, parents started sharing messages their Doolie had put in their cap – stuff like, “don’t be a little *itch” and other macho sentiments. I thought it was a cool tradition, but also know my daughter wouldn’t be doing that. The Thursday Recognition started, I got a video chat. She was visibly upset. Not necessarily about Recognition. As I’ve said many times, each cadet brings their own burdens to The Hill and my daughter’s burdens were weighing heavily upon her. I tried my best to turn her around, but it was not to be. Not the best frame of mind entering the grueling Recognition process.
In the end, this is just another example of these young men and women Figuring It Out. I had a high degree of faith that she’d grind through Recognition and get to the other side. But let’s be honest, nothing is for certain.
As the Doolies went radio silent and we parents sought refuge in Facebook, I saw what I would have expected – a mix of parents poring over the WebGuy photos hoping for a glimpse, wringing their hands, and anticipating a phone call when it was all over.
When it was finished, the overwhelming majority of posts I read were effusive, the now-C4C was ecstatic, felt an overwhelming pride in the accomplishment, they had “crushed” it. Of course, some parents were still waiting. I got my call late in the evening. I had been battling a stomach bug all day, so I wasn’t exactly hyped up but relieved to see her smiling face, 100% better than the call before it all started.
Not that she was bursting with pride or joy. There was no discussion about a feeling of accomplishment and certainly nothing close to “I’m glad I did it.” Nothing placing this among the greatest moments of her life. Always the pragmatist, she was simply relieved to have it behind her, to be able to wear civilian clothes and dive into the pile of treats I had sent her. I shared WebGuy pictures of both her and her roommates, which made her laugh, and told her that her C3C mentor said she had done well and was really tough.
“He’s such a nice guy,” she said. And did a great job of decorating her room and touching base with me.
But for my daughter, Recognition wasn’t a life-changing event, it was the means to an end. No more Doolie duties, able to wear civilian clothes, able to go to different squadrons to connect with other former Preppies. And one step close to wrapping up her first year.
Other C4C’s had dramatically different experiences from her – both better and worse. And I can say the same for the other parents in comparison to my experience. And as I’ve said 1,000 times before, that’s OK because your experience is the right experience.
The ceaseless cycle now continues as we head into Spring Break then learn about summer training schedules. Oh yeah, then there’s the little thing of the Class of 2026 arriving for I Day. And most of those parents will run through all the emotions most first-year parents run through. And Class of 2025 parents can now join the group of “experienced” parents to help them through it.