A Bittersweet Day

A little over 4 years ago, The Wife and I signed up to be sponsor parents for the Academy.  Sponsors act as a sort of home away from home for a midshipman, a refuge from life on The Yard.  Yesterday, we watched as 4 of the most extraordinary young women we’ve ever met walked across the stage to receive their diplomas and took the Oath of Office as commissioned officers the Navy and Marine Corps (hoo-rah).

A midshipman’s first, or Plebe, year is a tough, demanding ordeal, both mentally and physically.  There is also almost no escape from it.  The Plebes are only allowed liberty on a handful of weekends that first year, but whenever she was able, we brought her home for the weekend to relax.  And wear something other than her uniform.

One of the things we were told during sponsor orientation was “if you feed them, they will come”.  How true that was.  We love to cook, and are always looking for new things to try.  By the end of Plebe year, we had 3 additional Mids making semi-regular visits to our home.  The more the merrier.

So much has happened over the past 4 years.  Countless loads of laundry, dozens of trips to Brewster’s for ice cream, way too many episodes of Grey’s Anatomy (are you sure there’s nothing on the Military Channel you’d rather watch?), rugby games followed by washing the team’s uniforms.  Aggie had just learned how to walk when we med our mids on sponsor introduction day, and today marks her last day of pre-school.  She has grown up with the mids, and thinks of them as big sisters.  By the way, there’s nothing cooler than a sofa cushion fort made by a bunch of engineering students.  The Pirate arrived towards the end of their junior year, and all the mids were so helpful in those chaotic first months.  The Pirate is as comfortable with them as she is with us.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the mid’s “real” families, who obviously did all of the heavy lifting in raising these women.  We got more out of this experience than you did, and we’d be more than happy to do it all over again.

As of today, they are out of our nest, living on their own.  Two have already left Annapolis and are en-route to their ships, one heads out the The Basic School in July, and the last departs in mid-August for Pensacola to begin flight school.  That being said, there will always be room in our home and our hearts for them.

 Congratulations to our “girls” and the rest of the USNA class of 2012. Welcome to the fleet!

10 Comments

Filed under Family

10 responses to “A Bittersweet Day

  1. Matthew

    Wonderful of you to do that. I’m sure your home was an oasis of sorts. I was looking at the picture and noticed that one of those things is not like the other (different dress), is that a valedictorian or its’ equal?

  2. That young lady is the Marine.

  3. What a great thing to be able to do – for yourselves and for them. I’m not surprised you and The Wife did this. What little I know of both of you is enough to be certain you have a generosity of spirit that is rare these days.

  4. Outstanding! I’m sure it is bittersweet but on the other hand, you had a role in raising up the next generation of our nation’s leaders. Bravo Zulu!

  5. Bill Brandt

    Hat’s off to you – between the experience my nephew said of the 1st year at West Point – an astounding percentage just “quit” within a short time of admission – maybe it is the 1st 6 months that they drop like flies – but to my point – you provided a bit of home and sanity to these women.

    Maybe you even made the difference for 1 or more between “toughing it out” and leaving – but you will never know.

    Hats off too to all these midshipmen that have seen it though the 4 years …That’s quite an accomplishment and they join some illustrious company over the years.

  6. SteveC

    Extraordinary people – all of you – and a very special couple you must be to have given so much of yourselves to these fine ladies. I was feeling a little down today about the future and now I feel so much better. Thank you all for what you have done and will do.

  7. Daryle LaMonica

    Awesome and congrats to you and the ladies.

  8. Hogday

    What a handsome crew! `Shiver me timbers and slap on a spanker`

  9. SoCal Pir8

    Bravo Zulu to you and Mrs.

  10. What a special gift you have given and received. I met some of our country’s young officers at Lex’s wake and would have loved to give them a home away from home anytime. My understanding of life as a midshipman is that it is tough and a little bit of kick back time must have been appreciated. Good on you! Keep us apprised of their Life After The Academy, please.

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