I’m sitting at the kitchen table, finishing off the pot of coffee as the clock nears 10 a.m. My Mid, who has been fastidious about getting up reasonably early since he came home for Second Block leave a week ago, is only now starting to show signs of life.
Meanwhile in Annapolis, the Plebes of the Class of 2022 are undoubtedly a few hours into another grueling day. The USNA’s “Circle of Life” continues to fascinate me.
Plebe families are experiencing true radio silence, anxiously awaiting that first letter and, a bit later, that first phone call (here’s a good post about how the phone calls work). While I Day was a difficult day for me as a parent, I remember the time waiting for contact as being incredibly stressful.
Plebe families most certainly will soon receive a letter, as the Plebes are required to write. I’ve heard of folks receiving blank sheets of paper to effusive notes and everything in between. Our first letter was grim, though not desperate.
My only advice on this is, if the letter is positive, enjoy it. But don’t be surprised if there are moments when your Plebe’s attitude isn’t so positive. It can be a roller coaster. If the letter is a downer, take a moment to read this post by the Academy Insider, because it may not be as bad as it seems. Also, if you haven’t started writing … start writing!
The Plebes have already had their first break in the form of Sunday religious services. Even the not-so-religious Plebe will seek refuge there, though not necessarily spiritual refuge. Instead, they will learn that when they are at these services, they are briefly out from under the thumb of the detailers and also get a treat in the form of donuts. As my Mid says, “a lot of Plebes will find Jesus this summer.” It’s the little things.
They have another respite coming up on July 4 when they will enjoy a BBQ and fireworks on Hospital Point.
While all of this is jarring to those who haven’t experienced it, I’ve learned that it’s really just business as usual. Newly minted officers are either preparing for additional training (nuke school, flight school) or jumping into their first assignments. Returning Mids are either in the midst of training or enjoying their time off. And the Plebes, of course, are learning to “embrace the suck.” Not exactly a line Disney would find appropriate, but all part of USNA’s “Circle of Life.”
I did a podcast with my son after his Plebe Year and it was a great conversation. IMPORTANT: I made an egregious error in the podcast, saying it was 9 weeks long. It’s not. It’s six. Proof that if Ernest Hemingway and Edward R. Murrow needed an editor, I probably do, too!