Saturday of Ring Weekend we were determined to make the best of our altered situation. Stanley had to stay in the hotel room and rest his foot. He couldn’t see an orthopedic doctor until we returned to Roswell on Monday anyway. After bringing him breakfast and a few other goodies to leave him the afternoon, Chelle and I headed to The Citadel. It was later than we had hoped but we did manage to get to campus before the barracks closed.
We made quick stops at 4th battalion and 2nd battalion to leave cookies for a few cadets. We arrived at 1st Battalion with just enough time before the knob promotion ceremony to walk up the stairs to 4th division (the fourth floor) to visit a few knobs. Our tradition for the four years my son was a cadet was to go to the 4th floor and bring candy to knobs. We missed quite a few of them but did manage to give candy to a few parents of knobs to pass along. It was fun to see the proud faces of family members as they visited with the knobs. For many it was the first time on campus since the August matriculation day. Chelle was busy taking photos and video of the vents that morning. I took a few photos of the Bravo Company banner and the promotion ceremony. It all brought back so many memories.
Once the barracks closed we walked to eh parade field near the jet named Annette. We hoped to meet a few of the 2018 families I have corresponded with through Facebook. The first friends we ran into were alumni, Paul Tamburrino and his 1989 classmate, Jim Watkins. Last March Chelle and I met them both at the fundraising event hosted by The Citadel Brigadier Foundation.
It wasn’t long before more parents began to arrive. Introductions were made and the visiting commenced. Of course we managed to get a group photo in too. I was surprised by a few moms who gave me gifts that day. One 2018 mom gave me a small silver cannon charm. She knew I was excited for my opportunity to shoot the cannon at the football game later that day. Another mom presented me with a tea towel with several South Carolina landmarks illustrated on it. During the parade a long time friend gave me two cookies with the Citadel “C” and a Bulldog on it. And a big surprise came when one 2018 mom sent a message that she had “my glass,” and she asked where to find me. By that time Chelle and I were eating BBQ at the Holliday Alumni Center. (The food was great and the AC on that 90+ degree day was heaven-sent!) It turns out this thoughtful mom had decorated a wine glass with a Bulldog on one side and on the other she wrote “Citadel Yoda” on it. A name the 2018 moms gave me on the Facebook group. I am overwhelmed with the generosity of these families.
It was time to go to the game. It was a bit sad that Stanley was stuck at the hotel. This was going to be the weekend that he finally met my Citadel friends. Where ever we went people asked about him. One very thoughtful father of a 2017 cadet, Michael Givens, asked what he could do to help. I asked him if he would take a few photos of me shooting the cannon at half-time. Michael is a very talented cinematographer and photographer. I was thrilled to hear he would meet us by the cannons before half-time.
As it turned out it was just too hot for us in the stands. We didn’t even make it to our seats. We made the best of it though and visited with cadets under the stands. By second quarter we headed to the cannons for me to receive my instructions on how to fire the cannon. The TAC officer there introduced me to a cadet officer who instructed me how to fire the cannon. A long cord was attached to the pin in the cannon. At the designated time I was to unwind the cord, and take several steps away from the cannon while holding the cord with the wooden handle. Once the cord was taught I was to wait for her signal to pull the cord to shoot the cannon.
I spent the time waiting for half-time talking to a few knobs and other cadets. I was surprised to meet a cadet from our hometown. Michael Givens arrived to shoot the photos. We waited for the end of the second quarter. When it was time things moved very quickly. I unrolled the cord, took a few steps until the cord was taut and waited for my signal. Six shots were fired then Cadet Goodwin dropped her arm to signify it was time to shoot the cannon. I held the wooden handle with both hands and also grasped my pants pocket. Taking a step away from the cannon while also turning away from the cannon I pulled the cord. The sound that followed felt like it went through my chest. The smoke billowed outward in a circle. I shot the cannon!! Chelle was right next to me and let out a little scream with the BOOM. How fun! A cadet came up and gave me the pin and the charge from the cannon to keep as a souvenir. I think I’ll put them in the frame with the series of photos Michael took.
While there was still two quarters to go in the game it felt like, at least to me, that the biggest event was over. Chelle and I stayed by the cannons and visited with a few friends during third quarter. I even got to meet the new commandant of cadets, Capt. Gene Paluso. It turns out he knows a high school friend who was also a Navy Seal. We left the cannon area and went up to a box to watch the end of an exciting game. It felt so good to be in air conditioning, but it had been a long day and we had not talked to Stanley at all. At the end of the second over time period we made our way back to the car and on to the hotel to check on Stanley.
Our fun day ended with a very good dinner at Coleman’s Public House in Mt. Pleasant. A good friend recommended we try it and it was definitely a great place to add to our favorites list.
Stanley’s foot was bothering him a bit so we went directly back to the hotel to rest. Once we got back to Roswell and to the doctor he gave Stanley a walking boot to wear. It was a huge relief to learn he would not require surgery.
The big weekends at The Citadel go by so quickly. I’m glad I too took some photos to remember everything we did over the weekend! You can see my photos from Saturday here.