Yesterday, June 27, about 1,200 members of the Naval Academy class of 2017 reported for Induction Day (or I-Day as we really call it). It’s a day unlike any other and is always remembered for the impact it has on your life, no matter how long you stay at the academy or in the Navy.
It’s a day full of frenzy, anxiety, and fear for new midshipmen and the parents who hesitantly dropped them off. Uniforms, shots, haircuts, your first seabag, and learning how to salute are just the tip of the iceberg. I-Day is long, but it’s just the beginning of “four years by the bay.”
I will always remember my I-Day. I convinced my parents to drop me off the day before so I could be well rested and ahead of the game on July 1, 1997. I had only graduated high school 30 days before.
I had my hair cut short so I didn’t have to worry about it that day, but I realized that there is nothing anyone can do to accurately prepare for the culture shock of I-Day, Plebe Summer, Plebe year, and the other three years at the academy. There’s so much going on, lots of midshipmen detailers yelling at you because you’re not doing anything right or moving fast enough (a common theme during Plebe Summer, but it has a purpose).
The crowning moment of the day is when we are all assembled before family, friends, and other spectators, to take our first oath. Our oath as midshipmen to obey orders and protect the country from domestic and international threats. What a heavy promise to make at 17, but, it’s an important commitment.
(My plebe year official photo from the 1997-98 academic year at USNA.)
While I wasn’t the top midshipman in my graduating class or even the best plebe during Plebe summer, the lessons I learned have been invaluable and I wouldn’t trade the entire experience for the world!
So, from the class of 2001 to the class of 2017, “Welcome aboard, shipmates” and enjoy your four years by the bay because the Naval Academy is “a tough place to be, but a great place to be from.”