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Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Acceptance Day

Today Caleb went from "Basic Cadet" in boot camp to "Cadet 4th Class", officially accepted at the USAFA. 
This was a day of pomp and precision, honor and commitment.  The entire USAFA turned out to march in parade, complete with flags and band, two A10 "Warthogs" flying over with perfect timing at the exact moment they were to appear, and even cannon fire.
I arrived early to get just the right space in the stands where Caleb's squadron would be.  Met nice dedicated parents of other young men who flew in to do the same.
The placement was perfect, but the cadets faced the field, so I mostly saw Caleb from behind . .
That's his elbow, in case you didn't recognize it, middle column, second row in, just in front of young lady with bun.

There was a speech by a member of the class of 1966 (their predecessors by 50 years), some vows, all very patriotic and impressive.  They promise not to lie, cheat, or steal, or tolerate amongst them those who do, to live honorably, and do their duty. 
All that was very inspiring, but not nearly as inspiring as actually walking ONTO that field and getting a big hug from my boy.  I am so so so so thankful for everyone who is suffering to allow me to be here this summer.  I can't say enough how important it has felt to my heart to be here to write letters and pray from the same state and time zone, to be cheering on at in-processing and acceptance.  THANK YOU SCOTT MYHRE and everyone else.

This is another missionary-kid--he didn't go to RVA but his siblings did, so it was nice of him to come find us.  Caleb MacLachlan, thanks.

This is Caleb with his roommate from basic training, who is sent here by the military from Senegal.  I kind of like the way Africa just rises up to find you no matter where you go.  They enjoyed playing football (soccer) together.

From the parade ground we were allowed to walk into the cadet academic area, which is normally off limits to mere mortal civilians like me.  This is the "Core Values" ramp and arch.  Integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all you do. 

 From there we headed for the dorm.
Today the 4th class cadets could walk normally with parents--as soon as we left, they have to spend the rest of the year RUNNING everywhere they go ON THE WHITE MARBLE LINES in the terrazzo.  My image is that of a little vole or mouse hunted by a huge hawk, scurrying from safety zone to safety zone, reluctant to emerge in the open.  I'm actually serious that it is a big perk that Caleb's dorm is very close to the dining hall.  Less time outside=less chance for abuse.
The hall, this is one HUGE building.

The actual room, Caleb has the top bunk but he doesn't actually sleep on it, instead he sleeps on the floor, which saves him a few minutes of life in the mornings because the bed stays made.  His two new roommates he likes a lot.  One is an American football player from Texas.  I was blessed to hang out with his parents after we all said goodbye.

Two of his "cadre", the upper-class men and women who were their leaders during basic training, pinned shoulder boards on.  Caleb has one wavy stripe now.  Lowest on the totem pole until next year's class comes.  His squadron is 27 (of total 40, about 100-120 in each, just over 4000 total cadets), see the Thunderbird symbol.  This little detail is like the moment I walked into the Yale chapel and the organist was playing a hymn that was very significant to me and specially connected to Luke.  For Caleb, I really am happy he's a Thunderbird.  My dad was a huge Thunderbird CAR fan, had an early one, and later a restored one.  We had glasses with this symbol at my home. 
Then, oh joy, we had almost two hours to just talk and eat a picnic.  I drove us up to this overlook on campus.  Caleb was able to greet all siblings, Scott, and a good friend from RVA, on the phone.  I learned some fun things as he thought of what to say about the last two months.  The first week was the worst, and he's learning that transition is just HARD.  He actually really LIKED the second part, when other people were stressed about living outside in tents and being dirty, he was in his element. The obstacles courses, running, shooting, all of that was more fun for him.  The physical part he did well.  He ran the fastest 1.5 miles in his squadron of over 100 kids.  He was selected, he thought, to do the parachute jump (only the top kid in each squadron on the whole physical fitness test gets to do this) but at the last minute, after he had signed the papers and received instruction, he was told he was an alternate, losing the place to a girl who did better relative to the female standards (she's a recruited gymnast athlete).  Still I'm proud of him for working so hard to be fit.  He's probably the ONLY basic cadet who GAINED ten pounds.  Yes, they made him drink energy boosts three times a day, and he thought the food was good and abundant.  My African kids get to American college food and think it's fantastic.  So he put on a good bit of muscle.  He thinks he may be the youngest kid there.  He's homesick for us, and for Africa, but determined to persevere.  He thinks about who he is, and I like who he is and who he's becoming.

Then we carried school supplies, a printer, underwear, goodies and the GUITAR (allowed at the last minute) to his dorm room, and  had to say goodbye again.  I know that was hard for both of us.  It was so good to see and feel him in the flesh and hear a bit about his life.  I do think he has made some friends, and found things to laugh about.  I also know it is wearing to be constantly graded, constantly competitive, always at risk of being abused, never quite sure of what is next or how to act and react.  When I came out into the real world again, I realized what an elite group is there, every single person healthy and smart and strong and courageous.  It's definitely not the real world but we pray it is a training ground for those who would influence the world for good, rescue the weak, stand for honor.

Grief is always so tiring.  So off to rest and recover, but very very thankful.


Anonymous said...

tears of joy and grief.
thanks for writing Caleb's story and yours.Blessings to you Scott for enduring this hardship. aunt pat

Kimiko Nabors said...

shedding tears of joy and grief with you and pati, today. thanks for sharing, jennifer. so proud of caleb - and awed by you and scott!

Anonymous said...

good article ,,, :)