As I’ve written before, I love May. I mean, who doesn’t love a good celebration and May is full of them.
I’m writing this the day before Mother’s Day and what better reason is there to celebrate? The fact that Mother’s Day comes about right as classes are wrapping up is synchronicity, I think, mixed with a bit of poetic justice. What better gift is there for a USNA mom than to know their Mid has put some stress behind them?
The firsties are soon to celebrate the pinnacle of their time on the Severn – Commissioning Week. Of course, that includes the moment Plebes have been waiting to celebrate since I Day – the Herndon Climb. Again, there’s a certain poetry that bookends Commissioning Week with the end of one class’s Plebe Year and the end of another class’s USNA experience.
Speaking of Herndon, don’t forget to check out this year’s Herndon Playlist featuring everyone’s favorite USNA rodent, Chester Midshipmouse.
The parents of all college seniors get excited about graduation but I can assure you, that USNA moms have achieved a level others can barely imagine let alone attain. I’ve seen the looks of other parents when the discussion turns to USNA graduation and it’s typically a mix of bewilderment and disbelief. That’s OK because like a lot of things involving being a military academy parent, most folks don’t understand and that shouldn’t bother anyone.
Oh, a reminder that if some of your non-USNA friends say you have too much USNA-themed stuff or you’re going overboard for graduation/commissioning, you should get new friends. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.
So what is it about commissioning from USNA that causes parents to, well, I won’t say overboard, but you know what I mean. The go-to answer here is immense pride. Simply earning an appointment to Annapolis is a great accomplishment but getting to the finish line is a greater challenge than most anyone could have imagined before I Day. The balance of rigorous academics, extracurriculars, and military obligations pushes the Mids to their limits. Then there’s the service selection where some realize a lifelong dream and others find out the next several years of their lives will be spent doing something other than their lifelong dream.
Yes, pride does play a big role in the big plans. But I suspect our desire for an outsized celebration goes beyond that. Though as a 2020 family, COVID-19 robbed us of any semblance of a “real” Commissioning Week, I felt the need to celebrate has as much to do with looking forward as it did with looking back. While much of my Mid’s four years at USNA remains a mystery to us (and rightly so), we were directly connected to so much of it. Dinners with other Mids (#YourMidIsMyMid), the excitement of Sprint Football (including a championship), frequent visits to The Yard, attending the Army-Navy game, and meeting other families.
We knew that would all change after commissioning. Yes, there would be milestones during his nuclear training and the pilot training of some of his closest friends, but we knew it wouldn’t be the same. His class would be scattered to the Four Winds and while we would always have a unique bond with his classmates and his classmates’ family, it was going to be different. To take advantage of that last opportunity to really be a part of it all is something most of us parents simply cannot pass up. Nor should we.
So embrace all the celebrations of May. The Moms deserve it, you deserve it, the Brigade deserves it. Hell, after all we’ve been through the past few years, we all should take advantage of any excuse to celebrate.
As we acknowledge Mother’s Day, I humbly ask you to join me in holding up the mother and family of an Air Force Academy cadet who died tragically, suddenly, after a skateboarding accident. The family’s faith is strong but this sort of devastating news requires all the support we can muster.