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Public Affairs : RDay for Class of 2020

Welcome to West Point – R-Day for Class of 2020

Story by Michelle Eberhart
Assistant Editor

WEST POINT, N.Y. (June 27, 2016) - Reception Day at the U.S. Military Academy is one of the most memorable and intimidating days to all who have experienced it. This year was no exception.

USMA Class of 2020 R-Day took place Monday, beginning with a long line of more than 1,300 new cadets and their families waiting to enter Eisenhower Hall, the final stop before parents and their children would be separated completely for the next six weeks.

“I’m expecting to get yelled at a lot,” a female new cadet said as she was waiting in line with her parents. “It’s going to be fun, but tough.”

This new cadet from Pennsylvania said she came last year for the Summer Leader Experience program and knew West Point was where she was meant to be.

“It’s a great education, it’s a great opportunity, and it’s what I want to do, so it’s a great way to make it happen,” she said.

Her father, a King’s Point grad, said they come from a Navy family, but he’s embracing her choice.

“I’m impressed and proud,” he said. “She sort of found this on her own and she really wants it, so I can’t stand in the way of that.”

Another in the long line, a male new cadet stood with his parents, proudly displaying Texas shaped name plates on their chests.

“I’m super excited for him, I know that he has been training for this pretty much his whole life and I’m really proud of him. He’s worked really, really hard to get here and I know he’s got what it takes,” his mother said with tears in her eyes.

This new cadet said he has experience in JROTC and is planning on getting a degree in leadership or defense and strategic studies and eventually pursuing a career in the Army.

“I’ve wanted to be in the military since I was really young, originally I wanted to go Air Force but through the service academy application process, I decided that the Army was better for me,” he said. “West Point has a lot of history, a lot of leadership development, and that kind of stuff that the other Academies don’t have as much of, so that really attracted me.”

Along with the history of West Point, the Academy, for some, serves as a home for family tradition.

“He’s told me all his old stories from back in the day,” a new cadet from New Jersey said of his West Point grad father.

“I’m extremely proud of my son, it makes me feel honored that he would choose to become a member of the Long Gray line,” his dad said. “He is absolutely prepared and really wants to be here, which makes me and his mother very happy.”

A new cadet steps up to the line to report to Class of 2017 Cadet Chandler Cole during Reception Day of the Class of 2020 Monday at West Point. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Vito T. Bryant)

As the long line funneled into Eisenhower Hall with their families, each person took a seat in the auditorium where they were briefed on what to expect for R-Day and for the next six weeks. Eventually, they had to say farewell.

“You have 60 seconds to say goodbye to your families and your time starts now,” a firstie cadet said to the crowd.

For a quick minute, the new cadets hugged their families for the last time as civilians and went on to begin their R-Day experience.

After being issued their uniforms and dress shoes, new cadets performed pull-ups, were issued glasses and received haircuts.

Each step of the way, seasoned cadets made sure the new cadets marched correctly, cupped their hands and studied their new cadet handbooks.

As per tradition, cadets would each have to report to the cadet in the red sash, a senior cadet in their company who would make sure they reported correctly before moving on to the next step. If they made any errors, they would have to go back and try again.

“New cadet! Step up to my line! Not on my line, not over my line, not behind my line! Step up to my line!” the experienced cade said.

After rendering a proper salute and articulating the scripted sentence perfectly, they would pass through.

Eventually, new cadets participated in their first of many parades and took their oaths of allegiance. For the next six weeks, new cadets will undergo a vigorous training regimen at Camp Buckner and officially become plebes on Acceptance Day on Aug. 13.

(Editor’s note: New cadets and parents’ names will not be released until Acceptance Day.)