The tall brunet stood at the edge of the ‘Yard’, and looked at the chaos that was going on there. Young men and their families, standing in line, saying goodbye, hugging and kissing in the midst of tears and laughter. He sighed, shrugged his shoulders, and picked up the small, single bag he had carried thus far. He didn‘t have many personal things to bring, in fact, all he had that was truly personal was his father’s ring. He’d worn it since he was thirteen and had found it in a box in the attic, and found it fit.
He squared his shoulders, and strode to the line, finding himself standing behind a family with several daughters, and a son talking nervously to his parents. The brunet stood quietly and listened. Never in his life, all his 18 years had he felt so totally alone. But, alone could work… it could give him the ability to make decisions that would be easier for him …no complications… He sighed, and shifted from foot to foot waiting, watching, and listening as the line slowly moved forward. As he approached the entrance to Alumni Hall, he watched as parents bid their sons goodbye, and left the doorway as the young men entered. The group in front of him stepped to the door, and said goodbye quickly, as the blond youth entered the hall. The brunet moved into line behind him, following at a safe distance. Looking about, he saw the table with letters C-D and moved toward it, noting the youth ahead of him moved in the opposite direction
“Crane, Lee B.”
He was handed a packet of papers, directed to the next table, and a chair to begin an endless day of paperwork, shots, and other activities.
At mid-day, the newest members of the Academy were marched, if one could call it that to lunch in King Hall, the dining Hall of Bancroft Hall. After lunch, shots, and medical reviews, uniforms were issued, and rooms assigned. He was thankful he had had his hair cut ( shaved actually) the day that he left, so that he hadn’t had to undergo what he felt was a humiliating process in public. It was about the only thing he didn’t like, the ‘buzz cut’ of the plebe.
Once uniforms and personal materials were provided, duffels, packed, they were taken in small groups, to their rooms. He walked into his quarters, finding it a two-man room, and finding he was the first one in. He chose a bed (rack), and began stowing his gear as he had been instructed to.
Several minutes later, activity at the door and a lanky blond was ushered in by the senior classman. He dropped his duffel and looked around…. “Home, Sweet Home, for the next four years!”
“Until they shuffle the Brigade…. Name’s Crane, Lee Crane…”
“Morton, Call me, Chip, roomie!” Morton grinned a lopsided grin and extended a hand. Lee took it and responded to the warmth of the grip.
“Okay, ‘roomie’. You’d better fold and stow those things of yours if you intend to make it to the swearing in on time…make the rack, too.”
Chip nodded, and set about his duties with an enthusiasm that matched Crane. The two young men fell quickly into an easy pattern of work, and just as quickly, both were ready, and snapped to a sort of attention when the upperclassman came to escort them to the lower level of ‘The Hall’ for the first formation in their careers.
The newest Plebe class formed on Tecumseh Court, some 1200 strong. In neat file, they assembled, uniformed and ready for the moment…
The Drill Officer took the podium, looked at the Candidates, and began, “Please raise your right hand, and repeat after me…
I ( your name), having been appointed a Midshipman in the United States Navy solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution f the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter, so help me God.
“Congratulations, gentlemen!” He looked at his
watch, “You will report to the area with the first letter of your last names to
say goodbye to your families. You will report to Radford Terrace for meal
formation at 1830. Dismissed.”
The young men broke rank and headed for the letter designations that spread from Tecumseh Court all along Stribling Walk. Chip saw the knot of Mortons and quickly ran to them. Lee watched, jealously, but resigned. Morton waved a hand at him and he hesitantly joined the boisterous little group, immediately warming to Clarry, Joe, and the girls, as they enfolded him in the warmth of their family.
Too quickly, their time was up and Clarry tearfully hugged her son goodbye, giving a warm hug to Lee Crane as well. Her son’s roommate had to know he was now part of their family. The sad young man needed to be included, and she was bound and determined to make him one of ‘hers’.
Chip hugged and shook hands with his dad, and Joe also wished Lee good luck. The young men turned and trotted off to formation, each deep within their own thoughts, but convinced that if nothing else, the future held a great deal of promise… A great deal!
Note: Check out this link for a look at I-Day in Alumni Hall for the new Plebes, class of 2006 -http://www.usna.com/Features/2001_2002/IDay/IDay.htm
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