For the Class of 2016, it's all about R-day
By Kathy Eastwood
Monday marked the first day of the 47-month West Point journey for roughly 1,200 new cadets during Reception Day.
R-Day began at Eisenhower Hall with a short briefing for the cadet candidates with families and friends, after which they were given 90 seconds to say goodbye before filing onto busses.
After traveling from Ike Hall to Thayer Hall, the new cadets completed several administrative tasks to include filling their duffel bags with everything they’ll need to finish Cadet Basic Training. They took the Oath of Allegiance and then received their company assignments.
Cadet cadre marched the new cadets into Central Area to instruct them on how to salute, march and the proper military way to answer questions, report to superior officers and learn how to become a West Point cadet.
Some cadet candidates have previous service as enlisted Soldiers and wanted to serve the Army as officers; others enjoyed the West Point experience during the Summer Leaders Seminar. One new cadet said she’s been here twice before and liked what she saw.
“I am a Women’s Army Volleyball recruit,” she said. “I also want to go into economics and hope to go into the finance branch.”
One male cadet from Massachusetts said West Point was his choice because of the discipline and leadership development.
“I have been around the military since I was a kid,” he said. “I’ve toured West Point before and I plan on a military career. I thought West Point is the best place to learn to be an officer and to learn aviation.”
For some family and friends, that 90-second goodbye was not enough. Some parents managed to catch a glimpse of their new cadets by positioning themselves in strategic spots between Thayer Hall and the Cadet Area.
There, they may see their new cadets with their gray shirt and black shorts and a loaded duffle bag on their back walk to the Cadet Area. This is where the new cadets learn to stand in front of the line of cadets in the red sash. The cadets render a salute and if they do not stand in the correct position, salute or answer the questions correctly, they will be asked to report again. When they do it successfully, they are welcomed into their new company—the best company in the Corps of Cadets.
One new cadet said it has been his ambition since freshman year in high school to attend West Point.
“I couldn’t get into the West Point Summer Leaders Seminar, but did get into the (Navy’s SLS version),” he said. “It’s pretty much the same, but I always wanted to be at West Point. I’m actually living my dream.”
The dream continues as Cadet Basic Training begins for the Class of 2016, but R-Day didn’t officially end until the new cadets marched onto the Plain, wearing their white and gray uniforms for the first time to take the ceremonial oath.