Remembering I-Day for 2020
I Day is over, and I can say it was a wonderful day in some respects – and a not-so-wonderful day in others. I started off the day in prayer, and making breakfast for my daughter – all of her favorites! I can say that I was a little sad and anxious, but managed to keep calm, albeit slightly irritable.
The weather was amazing – it was warm but not too warm, and there was a nice cool breeze all day. We accompanied Gabi to her report location and she entered at 9:15, her report time and were on time! Then I got to share the rest of the day with my sons – our oldest, chose to join us for part of his leave to support his sister, and younger bro, was so helpful.
We hung together with fellow parents and friends with whom we anxiously huddled together on the steps leading to the Midstore while we waited to get a glimpse of our almost-Plebes get off the bus after processing. My hubby was behind Alumni Hall waiting for her to exit after in-processing to get on the bus. He made friends too and became part of the 9:15 club.
Bus after bus came and went. Bags unloaded, young men and women in White Works uniforms and Dixie Cup covers got yelled at and ran by. I took pictures of as many as I could, all the while wondering what was holding up my precious daughter. Around 3:55, she finally exited the bus and ran up the steps to the Bancroft Hall Terrace affectionately called Red Beach. My eyes filled with tears when I saw her but I refused to give in to my emotions.
The time came for the Oath and we saw her once again, walking out of Bancroft and walking to take her seat with her Company. I was filled trepidation and immense pride that my once little girl had arrived at this place in her life. How time had flown! I wished that I would have been more deliberate in enjoying each moment of her young life at home. So many memories filled my mind and so many emotions filled my heart that it was overwhelming. And then came the deep reverberation of the newly minted Plebe class as they accepted their Oath of Office – “I Do!” The entire plaza of Tecumseh Court was filled with the voices of approximately 1,100 young men and women.
These young people were saying “Yes!” to serving their nation; to putting others before self; to being selfless in a generation of selfies; to protecting our freedoms no matter what; to doing their best regardless of their circumstances; to Never Give Up (the Ship!); to try their best to be men and women of courage, integrity, honor, and character; to develop Honor, Courage and Commitment; to be the leaders of tomorrow; to make life and death decisions that will affect those under their charge one day. What a daunting task and what an extraordinary spirit of service! I was beaming with pride not only for my daughter and my oldest, now a Firstie, but also for all the other Plebes as well.
We were finally reunited and had a chance to get a glimpse into her day. The reunion the stories that were retold were like a salve on my raw emotions. We were then separated again as she joined the formation that processed into Bancroft. This was one of many separations to come, both at USNA and later on in the Fleet.
The heavy bronze doors closed with the characteristic deep “boom” that reverberated throughout the courtyard, evoking in me a feeling of dread – the separation was now real and complete. We spent some time with friends and I have to admit that I have felt as if my heart were carrying a heavy burden and was extremely sad and out of sorts for weeks.
Again, as with my son before her, the question came to me – what are you going to do to honor your child’s commitment to serve? First, I choose again to follow the rules they must follow. Just like they have a Chain of Command, as a part of the Navy family, I also choose to be bound by that Chain of Command and to follow the rules that apply to me; I choose to park my car, land my helicopter or whatever vehicle characterizes my parenting style. My daughter is in the Navy now. She is an adult and I have done my job.
My new job, which I began after the Oath, is to support my Plebe by letting them go, allowing them to grow and develop into a strong, self-sufficient Naval Officer in training by assisting them in maintaining a good positive attitude and a positive morale so that they can endure and be victorious over Plebe Summer. To be the best parent of an adult person that I can be to the best of my ability. I will follow the regulations and expectations placed upon me, and I will continue to serve in my own way.
And when I see my daughter next time, she will have matured and be even more amazing to me! For me, it is good to be proud of my children, to rejoice with them, and to share in their heartbreaks. But it is also good to remember to always cloak myself in dignity, treat others with respect, and to show humility in all things – just like our my Plebes, my Mids, and my Officers do.
Today, I am growing up too! 😉 <3
The above were my thoughts after my second time around. As you get used to the separation and lack of communication as Plebe Summer progresses, the important thing is that we are all a part of a Navy family that has your back. We are all in this journey together.
Just a message away… GO NAVY!