The Dark Ages start at the beginning of the spring semester in January and rightly so. Coming off the return to normalcy that is Christmas Break, the Mids wake up when its dark and it’s dark again when they hunker down for dinner.
But things really get serious in February. The warmth and normalcy of Christmas Break have quickly faded away, any “new semester glow” has worn off and The Grind has become all too real. All eyes are locked on Spring Break, but that looms what seems like a long way to go … this year it stars Friday, March 9.
For the Plebes, this is really tough. Being home for a few weeks allowed them to feel human again, but now they are, well, Plebes again. Plebe Summer and the Fall Semester, while challenging, were all filled with uknowns. The Plebes didn’t know what to expect. Now they do. And the reality can be more frightening that whatever they had conjured up in their imaginations.
But the Youngsters and Second Class have that “look” about them, too. They know they have a grind ahead. And they know exactly what they are in for, and that doesn’t make it any easier for them. As they often do, they must “embrace the suck” and just keep plugging away. Meanwhile, the Firsties are in a whole different world as they contemplate their final academic semester before commissioning.
This can make February the longest month of the USNA year. There’s no football to look forward to (apologies to the other sports, but let’s face it, football is the sport). Spring Break feels like it’s a year away and cold winds off the Severn can blow right through you as you cross The Yard. The classwork piles up quickly and most Mids are waiting (anxiously) to hear about their summer training assignment. It’s really the No Man’s Land of the calendar.
For parents, it’s a great time to write that extra note or send that unexpected care package. One of the toughest parts of having a kid at the Academy is the lack of contact and the restrictions around that (liberty, etc.). That makes letters, cards and packages kind of SOP, but they become even more important during this time of year.
We’re blessed that our Mid will be coming home for a weekend in February, but we’ll make sure he returns with lots of goodies to help get him to Spring Break and the end of the dreaded Dark Ages.