Graduation for the Class of 2015

Graduate Sadarius Lucas and I take a selfie together after graduation
Graduate Sadarius Lucas and I take a selfie together after graduation

I had the honor of attending the graduation of the Class of 2015 last weekend. A young man I’ve known since before his Matriculation Day, Sadarius Lucas, invited me to be there for his big day. I arrived early in the afternoon Thursday before the Saturday graduation. It was fun to see cadets and families in the bookstore and on campus getting ready for the big weekend.

Friday morning I took my time getting to campus but had the opportunity to watch as the newly commissioned officers in the Air Force, Navy and Marines were rendered their first salute. While standing outside Summerall Chapel I was thrilled to see my long time friend, Gwen and her extended family. I wrote about Gwen a while back. We went to the same high school in New Jersey and ran around with the same friend group. When Gwen’s oldest was a knob she found my name in the Citadel Family Association list of volunteer and emailed. We picked up right where we left off 30 years before. It is just one story of many of the friendships that have been renewed between the parents of cadets. I say it often, I never expected that I would end up with so many new friends because my son chose to attend The Citadel. In this case it was a true gift to reconnect with Gwen.

I had the opportunity to finally meet a few people in the administration that I had not met before. We were all outside the chapel at the same time. I was floored to find out they all were familiar with this blog and also that I administer Facebook groups for parents of cadets, but not as surprised as I would be the next day after graduation.

2016 SUmmerall Guards enter the parade fieldAs the afternoon went on the weather was looking pretty iffy. Rain was in the forecast. The Summerall Guards began their performance and got through the entire series before the rain began. I noticed that the Secretary of the Veterans Administration, Mr. Bob McDonald was sitting next to President and Mrs. Rosa. I had met him briefly after a Town Hall meeting he held at the Atlanta VA in the fall. I went over to say hello. He continues to impress me with the work he is doing for our veterans. Right after he introduced me to his wife and his sister, who is the mother of a 2015 graduate, the rain began. Out of no where secret service men appeared with large black umbrellas. I’ve decided having “people” in the midst of a rain storm is a very nice perk.

The Class of 2015  form the Long Gray Line
The Class of 2015 form the Long Gray Line
Members of the Class of 2015 turn to face the Corps of Cadets.
Members of the Class of 2015 turn to face the Corps of Cadets.

I scooted to my car to wait out the rain. Fortunately after a 30 minute delay the rain died down and the final parade of the year, the Long Gray Line began. If you are ever in Charleston on the Friday before graduation, you owe it to yourself to be on campus for this parade. The rising cadet officers take their command and then the senior cadets leave their companies and stand shoulder to shoulder the length of the parade field to form a long gray line. At the designated time they march forward to the families and friends at the other side of the field and away from the Corps of Cadets. The seniors are grinning ear to ear as they march forward. They turn around and as their companies pass them on their way off the field they give a final salute. It is a very moving experience just to watch. You can catch a glimpse of the long gray line parade and the other events of the weekend in this video produced by the school.

Celebrating with the graduate and his mother.
Celebrating with the graduate and his mother.

Saturday, the BIG day, began early. Seating is first come first served so we arrived at 7:30 am to secure decent seats close to the podium and not too high up. It turned out we were only three rows behind Cadet Lucas. The commencement speaker, Keller Kissam, did an outstanding job of delivering an inspirational address to the Class of 2015. Take the time to listen to his address. You’ll be glad you took the time.

Class of 2015 Dismissed!
Class of 2015 Dismissed!

A highlight of graduation at a military college or academy is the final announcement by the president, Class of 2015 Dismissed! last Saturday we were not disappointed. The white covers were high in the air and the graduates were busy hugging and shaking hands. They were all heading out to points around the globe. Some will meet while deployed others may run into each other while doing business. After tolerating quite a few photos Sadarius and his mom and friend were off to Columbia, SC because he had to get to a 3:00 job interview! He is such a gifted young man I expect to see wonderful things from him in the years to come.

My final gift came as I was walking to my car near Mark Clark Hall. A golf cart approached and driving it was Captain Geno Paluso, commandant of the Corps of Cadets. He stopped his cart and said hello to me by name. We only met once before, briefly last fall at a football game. He went on to thank me for the help I provide to parents of cadets. I was floored that he knew my name. I was shocked to find out he knew that I do any type of volunteer work with parents. He ended up giving me a ride to my car. I like to tell folks he was my chauffeur for the afternoon. Fortunately a friend was right there to take a photo.

My "chauffeur " for the afternoon, Capt. Paluso.
My “chauffeur ” for the afternoon, Capt. Paluso.

I made one last stop at the boat house and the dock before leaving campus to head to Savannah to see my oldest son. It was a wonderful weekend. I am now very busy screening the requests to join the Facebook group for parents of the Class of 2019. If you know someone with a student who will be a knob this fall, please pass along this link. And please ask them to email me for message me to confirm they are a parent of an incoming knob. My email address is in the “About Dorie” section of this blog.

I love visiting the dock behind the boathouse whenI am on the campus. It is always so peaceful.
I love visiting the dock behind the boathouse whenI am on the campus. It is always so peaceful.

Our 2014 Ring Weekend Adventure, Part 1

Senior cadets march into McAlister Field House as the knobs of the Class of 2018 cheer them on. Photo by Stanley Leary
Senior cadets march into McAlister Field House as the knobs of the Class of 2018 cheer them on.
Photo by Stanley Leary

Parents weekend 2014 was to be a little vacation for our family. We looked forward to seeing a few old friends and meeting new ones. This was our first trip to Charleston for Parents’s Weekend since my son was a senior in 2010.

We did get to Charleston as planned an hour before the seniors marched into the field house to receive their hard-earned rings. We joined the other families along Jones Avenue to get a glimpse of the knobs lining the street and the seniors marching down the road with huge grins on their faces.

Within in the first few minutes of snapping photos the plans for a restful weekend went out the window. I was across from second battalion snapping photos and my husband was stepping up onto a bench to get a better angle of the seniors. As I was snapping photos I heard our daughter scream. I turned to see my husband laying flat on his back in front of the bench. My heart sank as I ran the few feet to be by his side.

He said his ankle hurt, then exclaimed, “My lens!” My husband is a professional photographer. His 28-300 lens was shattered. While the crowd around him asked what hurt, he was more worried about the broken lens.

I’ve learned that while on the campus of The Citadel we run into the parents we were supposed to run into. Last Friday was no exception. Within minutes of arriving on campus. I ran i to my long time friend from high school in NJ, Gwen Lynch Christ. Right after Stanley fell off the bench a couple whom I had corresponded with via Facebook appeared. Terrie Lane said, “Dorie, this is Gene, have you two met in person before?” Gene Lane, a Citadel dad I met through Facebook who has a background in sports medicine, was next to Stanley asking if he could help.

I was able to see Cadet Lucas received his ring by standing at the top of the stairs in the field house.
I was able to see Cadet Lucas received his ring by standing at the top of the stairs in the field house.

Gene helped Stanley onto the bench and began to evaluate the situation. Stanley was in so much pain at the time it was hard for him to respond. Terrie ran to the battalion and asked the TAC officer for ice. Gene wrapped the right foot with the ice and a cadet with a gold cart arrived to take Stanley and our daughter to the car. At this point Stanley assumed he had a sprained ankle. He had stepped off the bench and rolled his ankle when he caught the edge of the concrete footing. We decided I would go to the field house to get photos of my “adopted” senior cadet. I’ve followed the career of Cadet Lucas since before matriculation day his knob year and wanted to be there to see him receive his ring. Stanley and Chelle went to the car and decided to meet us at 4th battalion.

Cadet Lucas and his ring. photo by Stanley Leary
Cadet Lucas and his ring.
photo by Stanley Leary

I watched from the top of an aisle in the field house then left to find Stanley and Chelle by 4th battalion. Stanley was still insisting his ankle was sprained. He took photos of the seniors sprinting back to the barracks. He took photos of the proud families celebrating with their cadets. He then took photos of Cadet Lucas with his ring, with his mom and friend and with us. At some point Stanley turned to me and said, “I need to get my foot x-rayed. Something doesn’t feel right.”

We loaded our van and went to the emergency room at Roper Hospital just over a mile from the campus. Sure enough the x-rays showed a bone was broken in his foot. We decided that while he waited for the doctor I would take Chelle and check into our hotel.

On the way to the hotel a call came in from Hotwire. The room I had booked through them a month before was overbooked. I pulled into a fast food parking lot to talk to the Hotwire representative. The customer service person who was on the line said she would find another hotel. She didn’t. After talking to three additional Hotwire representatives I was told there were no more hotels in their inventory and they would refund my money. That left us 6 hours from home, with a husband in the emergency room and no hotel.

I called AAA and the customer service rep found one hotel room at the Hampton Inn and Suites at the Isle of Palms Connector. While the cost for one night equaled what we were going to pay for three nights we took the room.

Once we returned to the hospital, Stanley was put into a splint and told not to put any pressure on his foot until he could see an orthopedic doctor at home. We left the hospital and went directly to the restaurant to meet Cadet Lucas, his mom and her friend. At least we enjoyed a wonderful celebratory dinner at the Charleston Crab House on James Island. We even had a little entertainment when a knob arrived with his family. The knob took one look at Cadet Lucas’ senior stripes on his shoulder boards and turned sheet white. The poor family requested a table farther away from ours. Cadet Lucas had no idea any of this was going on around him at the time. I spoke to the mom of the knob and told her about the Facebook group for 2018 parents and assured her Cadet Lucas was too busy enjoying dinner with his mom to remember her son the knob.

Our first six hours in Charleston did not spoil the whole weekend. We adjusted our plans, settled in for the night and had a good nights rest.

To be continued. . . .

Celebrating with cadet Lucas are his mother's friend Pat (in blue) and Dorothy Lucas. photo by Stanley Leary
Celebrating with cadet Lucas are his mother’s friend Pat (in blue) and Dorothy Lucas.
photo by Stanley Leary


Our extended family: Dorie Cadet Lucas, Dorothy Lucas, Chelle Leary photo by Stanley Leary
Our extended family: Dorie, Cadet Lucas, Dorothy Lucas, Chelle Leary
photo by Stanley Leary