Why Independence Day Takes on a Whole New Meaning…

HAPPY Independence Day this 4th of July! The celebration of our Independence Day will probably take on a whole new meaning as a new Plebe parent.

I remember an increased desire to learn about our history, and spent our first 4th as a Plebe parent reading about the revolution, our flag, and was moved to tears of pride at the thought that our son and our daughter were now serving our nation, carrying on a long line of tradition and history.

As Plebe parents, you may still be still recovering from I-Day and the day after. You may be feeling a little sad, empty, and may find that the house is quieter than normal. I remember walking into my kids’ rooms numerous times to tell them something and would suddenly remember they weren’t there. Or I would begin to text them about something I forgot and realized they don’t have their phones. I remember seeing flags flying gracefully in the wind against a blue sky and wondering what was going on, what our children were up to, and how they were doing. The adjustment is sudden, almost brutal and difficult, and at times heart wrenching. But as we begin to heal, find pictures, and follow the journey we can begin to celebrate small and big victories, and to have joy once again.

Know that Plebes will be able to enjoy today under the watchful eye of their Detailers. The evening of the 4th brings Plebes a small respite and an opportunity to relax a little. This evening they may enjoy a cook out. In years past this has been catered by Mission BBQ. We will see what happens this year. And they should also have the opportunity to watch the fireworks over Annapolis as they sit outside. During our oldest’s Plebe Summer 4th of July “celebration” his 4th Co Detailers made their Plebes “Oooh” and “Aah!” every time a firework lit up the sky – what they said would depend on the color of the fireworks.

As far as history, I helped my daughter to research about John Paul Jones for a project during her senior year in high school. I was baptized in the chapel and have visited his crypt many times, but I found myself immersed in John Paul Jones’ story. After reading many of his letters we found out that a tragedy that occurred on his ship which cost him dearly which is why he was the first to petition Congress for an academy where Midshipmen would be properly trained in naval protocols and sailing skills. Our duaghter became a part of that Academy! Who knew?

So on your inaugural Fourth of July as a USNA parent, I thought I would share some info about N*ot College that may be helpful as you learn to navigate the Navy and the wonderful world of Navy terms and acronyms. Although I do discuss a few in my book, A USNA Mom’s Journal, you will find an in-depth resource for acronyms on my website Resource page, and the guide that I mention below.

Beginning with the class years at USNA – What is each called? One of the big and glaring differences between Navy and regular college is that the class years are called by different names. If you hear current parents talk about Youngsters, 1/C, or 2/C, here is what that means:

Plebe = Freshman (No stripe)
Youngster = Sophomore (Diagonal stripe, one anchor)
2/C or Second Class = Junior (2 diag stripes, 2 anchors)
1/C or First Class = Senior (1 straight stripe, 2 eagles)

Mid Ranks

There are other glaring differences and sometimes it will feel like our children are speaking a different language. Well, they are! Welcome to the Navy, the military, and the wonderful world of acronyms! This guide will help you to get familiarized with some of the things you may hear as you learn the language that is NavSpeak.

Also, if you have not had a chance to listen to Podcast Episodes 1 and 2, you can listen below.

A Navy Parent Life, Playlists, and More | Episode 4 USNA MidMoms and More Podcast

Karl Smith, Dad of USNA 2020 and USAFA 2025, author, and blogger joins me as we discuss life on the Yard, being a USNA author, his blog, and his story as a USNA and USAFA Dad.
  1. A Navy Parent Life, Playlists, and More | Episode 4
  2. Grit, Courage, and Determination: Janie Mines USNA '80 | Episode 3
  3. I-Day and Plebe Summer : Two-thirds of the USNA Journey | Episode 2
  4. Not Your Usual Summer Camp | Episode 1

Buckle up, tighten the safety belt and get ready for the ride. Happy Independence Day and as always, I am here if you have questions!

GO NAVY!