The Class of 2023 has arrived. More than 1,200 cadet candidates reported to the United States Military Academy on R-Day and began their transition from civilians to members of the Corps of Cadets, the Profession of Arms, and the Long Gray Line.
The day began at Eisenhower Hall, where groups of cadet candidates and their family members entered the auditorium for the welcome brief and the famous “60-second goodbye.” After a perfectly timed minute, parents were “invited” to follow the green arrows up the aisles to an information center or to the WPAOG reception breakfast, hosted by the Class of 1973, the 50-Year Affiliation Class for the Class of 2023. Cadet candidates, however, were “instructed” to follow the pink arrows to the wall of the auditorium, lining up at the base of the stage and taking all commands from the cadet cadre guides. Cadet candidates then boarded buses to begin in-processing at Thayer Hall.
After passing through dozens of stations occupying two floors at Thayer—everything from dental records and baseline physical assessment to uniform measurements and company assignment—they exited Thayer Hall as bona fide “new cadets” (having taken their official oath at Station 10) and moved in a line across Thayer Bridge to Central Area, decked out in Army-issued PT uniforms (black shirt, black shorts, black socks and black shoes) and carrying flight bags packed to capacity with all the items they will be allowed to have during their six weeks of Cadet Basic Training (CBT).
With the nearly noontime sun of a beautiful summer day shining down on their now shaved heads (slathered in sunscreen), the new cadets began their first lessons in marching, military courtesy, and discipline. Before long, it was time for the defining moment of R-Day, reporting to the Cadet in the Red Sash. As is typical every year, many new cadets had a difficult time getting their report right on the first try: some forgot to salute, some forgot the proper wording of the reporting script, some forgot the company greeting, and some just blanked when they heard “Step up to my line!” echoing throughout their company’s sally port. “Not knowing what to expect, new cadets come in as a bundle of nerves,” said CDT Alex Albright ’20, CBT-1 Commander. In these cases, cadet sergeants and platoon leaders worked with the new cadet until the demand for perfection was met. “Everything the cadre does is for the benefit of the Corps as a whole; making sure they meet the standard in stressful situations makes the entire team stronger as a unit,” said Albright.
The day concluded with the oath ceremony on the Plain. After reciting the oath to support the U.S. Constitution and bear true allegiance to the national government, the new cadets of the Class of 2023 marched off the Plain and entered Washington Hall to eat their first dinner as members of the Army family. “We are happy to welcome the Class of 2023 into this family,” said LTC (R) Al Sciarretta ’73. “This is why 18 members of the Class of 1973, their 50-Year Affiliation Class, came today: to support them and to let them know that the Long Gray Line cares about them and their success.”