Since 2010 when my son was cadet at The Citadel I’ve contributed to a blog, first it was the military blog, Off the Base, then I posted my own blog on WordPress, Dorie Griggs. This effort led to beginning Facebook groups for parents of new cadets. There are now groups for the parents of cadets, some grads, in the classes of 2016 – 2021 as well as the group, Military Parents of The Citadel, for parents of cadets and grads on military contracts.
I could not have predicted in 2010 that the blog would still be active, or that I’d still be involved with a school my son graduated from in 2011. As I outlined in the blog post, The Story of my Untraditional Calling, this effort has evolved from a call I have felt to be a supportive presence to people.
Together the groups I started and/or moderate include just under 2,500 members. It is a rewarding experience to help ease the anxiety of new parents. It is also a very time consuming venture. Between moderating the Facebook groups to answering private messages on an average day I interact with between 10 – 30 people daily about something cadet related. This has all been done on my own time at my own expense.
A few very thoughtful and supportive parents in the past couple of years have sent monetary gifts to help me make occasional trips to Charleston to attend events. Some have offered their homes so I don’t incur hotel charges. I am so grateful for their support.
I’ve now moved my blog to this platform to make it possible to add affiliate links and to encourage contributions to my effort to support parents. These links will make it possible for me to derive a small bit of income while providing helpful information to parents. Using the links will help me to continue to help parents and does not cost the user any additional money.
This is a big step for me and uncharted territory. With our own daughter graduating high school in May and heading off to college, I need to find ways to help pay tuition.
As always I welcome your feed back. Thank you for visiting.
This past week The Citadel Foundation (TCF) launched a campaign for seniors to give back $20.17. The goal is to raise $2,017 with 100% participation. Parents can also donate in honor of their cadet as well! In addition, the TCF will be adding a gift match by a generous donor in the near future but that won’t happen until next week.
It would be amazing to announce that this is the first time in history The Citadel Foundation has had a current cadet class at 100% participation! The link to the page is:
The Citadel is combining two big events for cadets the weekend of March 17 – 19, Corps Day and Recognition Day. The school website mentions three events which includes the Leadership Symposium. Since most families who come to town do so to see the Summerall Guards ceremony on Saturday morning, and this year for Recognition Day, I’ll focus on those two events.
Tips for parents of Bond Volunteers and Summerall Guards:
The crowd begins to form on the parade field about 30 minutes before the scheduled ceremony. The schedule lists the time as 8:45 – 9:45am. So arriving by 8:15am to find your preferred spot along the roped off area is a good idea.
Be sure to ask your cadet where they will be as they march onto the field to know if you should be on the side closest to the barracks or the other side closer to Chapel side of the field. For instance my son was the 5th squad back on the end closest to the barracks side of the field. We stood at the roped off area closest to the 2nd battalion across the walk way from where General and Mrs. Rosa sit for parades. (Of course cadets and grads will refer to theses areas and line up for the Summerall Guards by their proper terms. Since I’m a mom and not a grad I’ve developed my own way to describe the areas to help other parents know where to stand.)
Another must is insect repellant for the morning. The entire ceremony only lasts about 20 minutes or so but after it is over you’ll want to snap photos with your cadet. It is a bit of a scramble after it ends. Ask your cadet the best way to find them after the ceremony ends. Many of them will be talking with the Summerall Guard whose rifle they now carry and receiving their Summerall Guard patch.
Most years they’ve had a luncheon for the Summerall Guards after the parade. It is at the luncheon where we purchased out Summerall Guards parent t-shirt. It is a fundraiser for them to help with expenses. Check with your cadet for the plans for this year.
Tips for parents of the Class of 2020:
The schedule this year is completely different from previous years since Recognition Day has been moved from April to the same weekend as Corps Day. Stories from parents of upperclass cadets of what they did on Recognition Day won’t really apply to your experience this year.
This weekend is not like Parents Weekend where the emphasis is on spending time together. The Recognition Day part of the weekend is really about the Class of 2020 and their time together, parents while welcome to watch are not the focus. If you are planning to be in town, remember you may not see your cadet Friday afternoon and evening. They have meetings and will need to get their rooms in inspection order for the open barracks Saturday morning. If they do have time off to see you for dinner consider it a bonus visit.
Saturday will be jam-packed with activities. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes for the day. Look over the schedule to see just how busy you’ll be and make your plans for lunch based on your family.
The barracks open at 8:00am. Check with your son or daughter to see if they want any food brought to them. They will have a VERY strenuous workout after the parade so they may not want anything too heavy.
The Rifle Legion and the Summerall Guards will perform on the parade field that morning. Check with your cadet to see if they will be attending both or either of those events. My son’s senior mentor was a Summerall Guard so he wanted to see that ceremony.
After the Summerall Guards exchange rifles the Corps of Cadets must prepare for the 10:00 parade. This would be a good time to have a light snack. The Canteen will be open but to avoid lines you may want to pack your own snacks or lunch. You’ll also have time after the parade and before the Gauntlet begins to grab something to eat or sit in the reception room in Mark Clark Hall between events.
The Gauntlet begins at 11:30. It is a series of physical challenges the 4th Class cadets go through together by company. They will be either on the parade field or the WLI field. Some years the school posts a map. I haven’t seen it posted yet. To get an idea of how Recognition Day was handled in the past I’ve found the PowerPoint from 2015 on the website.
The past several years after the gauntlet is over and the 4th class cadets are in the barracks and hear the announcement “The 4th Class System is no longer in effect.” The newly recognized cadets would come out to give a hug to their family members. The timing is very tight this year and the cadets may not have time to come out. The training schedule has the cookout in the barracks beginning at 1320 and the hygiene time to get ready for the retaking of the oath on the parade ground at 3:00. The March is on the schedule for 1500.
If you haven’t ordered a meal through the school (the ordering time frame has past), pack a lunch or eat in the Canteen the school.
Cadets who saved an overnight and followed the protocol can take one Saturday night. Most of the cadets are too exhausted to want to do much Saturday night. If you want to go out for a nice meal Sunday is the better day to do that.
I’ll be helping my youngest daughter at her high school musical that weekend so I’ll have to miss the excitement. I look forward to seeing everyone’s photos. Next year I’ll have my own college freshman, just not a knob at The Citadel.
Many parents have asked if there is a traditional gift to mark this milestone. While there isn’t one “have to get” item, over the years many families have given their 4th Class cadet a company t-shirt from the campus bookstore to mark the occasion.
Each year for the past five years I’ve posted a group to support parents of incoming knobs at The Citadel. It is now time to announce the group for parents of the Class of 2021, The Citadel: Parents of the Class of 2021
Please note the parent groups by class are for the parents/guardians of the incoming cadet recruit (they aren’t cadets until Parents Weekend). While I understand there are family members who are very proud, the groups are limited to the parents only. Family members can follow the school via social media: Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat(TheCitadel1842), YouTube, Instagram, and Periscope.
The Citadel Family Association and the Parents page on the school web site are both great resources. Their web sites are accessible to anyone. The page for Freshman Parents features a series of helpful pages linked on the left hand side of the page (when accessed via computer). I highly recommend parents and their high school senior read through the Important Conversation page and watch the video there.
In the weeks and months to come I’ll post additional information and links geared towards new families. Be sure to send me an email or private message via Facebook after you request to join the group for 2021 parents. I verify each request to join the group to make sure only parents and guardians are accepted. Receiving an email makes the approval process go quicker. My email address is: Dorie at dorielgriggs dot com
Once a parent is accepted to the group they are asked to read and acknowledge the post pinned to the top of the page which outlines the basic ground rules for membership in the group.
A note about social media and cadets: It is best to tighten up the security of all social media platforms. Knobs should keep a low profile until their Recognition Day, the day the 4th Class system ends and they become full members of the Corps of Cadets. In addition to security settings an incoming knob should not use any Citadel related hashtags nor should they post photos wearing Citadel apparel.
Parents of the Class of 2018: Your cadets have ordered their rings and gotten their blazers. It won’t be long until the BVA’s find out if they are Summerall Guards. In less than ten months from now you’ll be attending Parents/Ring Weekend!
A few notes:
If your cadet is a Summerall Guard, do attend Corps Day Weekend. That is when they will transition from Bond Volunteers to Summerall Guards.
Find out where your cadet will be as they march onto the field Saturday morning and find your place along the roped off area early to get good photos. My son was on the side closest to the stands (versus on the chapel side of the field) we stood along the rope in front of the stands closest to the walkway from 2nd battalion.
Looking ahead to ring weekend, make your hotel or house reservation early. Get cancellation insurance if you rent a house as we learned this past fall with hurricane season anything can happen.
I’ve written quite a lot about Ring Weekend and posted plenty of photos to show moms in particular what to wear Friday evening. In short, the ring presentation in the afternoon business dress is appropriate (you’ll see more casual attire too) the evening ring ceremony traditionally moms wear a formal gown since the cadets are in their most formal uniform. Moms, wear comfortable shoes since you’ll be standing in a line for your turn through the ring.
You do not need tickets for the afternoon ring presentation or the evening ring ceremony.
The field house fills up quickly for the presentation so get to your seats early. As your friends with sophomore or junior cadets to take photos/video of the march into the field house and have them stationed at the chapel where the cadets knock on the chapel door with their rings.
After they receive their rings families should go to the barracks. The seniors run into the battalion have a sparking cider toast and throw the glasses at the company letter. If you are stationed at a sallyport with a view of the letter and a zoom lens you can get some photos. In 2010 my husband got permission ahead of time from the TAC officer to be in the battalion to take photos which we shared with everyone in the company afterward.
After the toast the seniors will come out of the barracks for congratulations and photos. The Summerall Guards have to practice. Most others have the afternoon off.
The school will post the schedule of when each company goes through the ring Friday night. If your cadet’s company has a time from 6 – 8 you can have dinner after you go through the ring. Bravo went through at 8:30 so our group of 30+ had dinner at 5:30.
Family and friends who are with you Friday night will go sit in the stands and wait for the cadet and mom/date/other guest to go through the ring. Once you walk through the ring your party will leave the field house.
Saturday of Ring Weekend is a regular football day, but with open barracks Saturday morning. Most cadets appreciate families bringing breakfast to them in the barracks that morning.
Keep a camera handy. Senior cadets smile more on Ring Weekend than any other time. It all goes by so quickly. If you have family or friends with you consider asking them to be the designated photographer for the family.
See the links at the end of this post for more photos:
Each year in February the questions from a variety of parents pick up. The senior parents are looking toward graduation and commissioning. I’ve added a few notes about the end of the year below.
Keep an eye out for the updated graduation schedule. I checked this morning and the 2016 schedule of events is still posted. You can use that schedule as a guideline for this year but watch for updates. A few general notes:
Tickets are limited. For the past several years each cadet gets 8 tickets. They can put their name in a lottery for extras but that is not guaranteed. Sometimes they can get a few from classmates who won’t use their allotment.
Since tickets are limited to graduation some families rent a house and have the graduation live stream connected to a large screen TV for the guests who can’t be at the event.
It is traditional to send out announcements for college graduation. Again traditionally announcements are sent to anyone who would want to know about this big life event. They are sent out the week of or after graduation. The recipient is not obligated to send a gift when they receive an announcement. It is a good time to announce the commissioning of a graduate who is entering the armed forces. You can also put a card with the new contact information for the graduate since they will no longer use the school’s address to receive mail. These small cards are referred to as “at home” cards to indicate the graduate will be at their new home after a certain date. The tradition of an at home card is an old one and has changed over time as to the meaning. You can read the history here.
Many families use the online announcement company Signature. They are nice quality, but a better price than what Balfour offers.
Commissioning services happen the Friday before graduation. Be in touch with your senior for the updated details on the ceremony. It is traditional for the newly commissioned second lieutenant to give the person who renders their first salute a silver dollar. You can usually find them online.
For those commissioning they will have to order and pay for their dress uniform. That process is usually started by now. The expense surprises many parents.
The seniors have to be out of the barracks by Thursday night of graduation week, unless they’ve requested and received an exception. Be sure you plan for this when making your accommodation reservations.
Like most big weekends, graduation weekend is a time of great activity. Dress for the weather and for comfort in walking. If the weather is warm many ladies wear light dresses for the commissioning service and long gray line parade. The gentleman wear jacket and tie for the commissioning and more casual attire for the afternoon parade. For graduation, business attire is appropriate, a dress or nice slacks for the ladies and jacket and tie for the gentleman.
Saturday morning arrive at the field house for graduation early to find a seat. In 2011 we were given assigned seats. The past several years it is open seating. Saving seats is discouraged. If you have young children attending, bring quiet distractions for them like coloring books and light snacks. The ceremony lasts about 3 – 3 1/2 hours. I played The Citadel version of “Where’s Waldo” with my daughter who was in 6th grade at the time her brother graduated. We had a list of my son’s friends and she tried to find them as they sat waiting for their name to be called.
Have a plan of where you are to meet after the ceremony. Some families meet on the floor of the field house some meet outside the building. It is helpful to have a plan ahead of time.
When my oldest son deployed in 2012 I began to see the larger network of The Citadel in action. A friend at church, Col. William Buckley, USMC (ret) introduced me via email to a friend of his from his days as a cadet at The Citadel, LTC Walter “Wally” McTernan, USMC (ret), Citadel class of 1972. Wally, as I’ve come to call him, was, and still is, in Afghanistan as a contractor.
While my son was deployed Wally looped me into correspondence with a wide array of Citadel graduates. I sent care packages to some with the help of friends from church Citadel parents, military reporters, and others.
Thanks to Wally I learned helpful advice of what to send deployed service members. Things like Saran wrap that could be used to stop bleeding in the field. I learned how broad reaching The Citadel network really is, even including the clueless mom of a graduate.
I also learned that Wally is a great story-teller and organizer. He coordinates the alumni in country for an annual Muster to honor the fallen graduates. He was recognized by the Citadel Alumni Association for his volunteer work in 2014 being named the 2014 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year. I also learned of his love of Crystal Light Peach tea.
My son is out of the Army now and working in his new career based in Houston. Wally and I continue to correspond. With the news of the Summerall Guards and the Regimental Band and Pipes marching in the inauguration parade in January Wally’s latest email tells the story of his experience in participating in the Cherry Blossom Festival parade in 1972 and another story of the inauguration of President George Bush in 1989. I am sharing his story it here with his permission.
A story by LTC Walter F. McTernan, USMC (retired), The Citadel class of 1972:
“The 1972 Summerall Guards marched in the Cherry Blossom Festival parade in WDC in early April 1971. Luckily for me I was in position 1A1 (first squad leader, front rank) – because we were marching behind a mounted unit, and there were a lot of “horse apple IED’s” on the road. So I was luckily able to adroitly avoid stepping on/in them. Of course, keeping established discipline, I did not say anything. I chuckled inside every time I heard a softly muttered “shxt” by someone in a follow-on rank who haplessly “stepped in it” (literally). After the parade, I noticed the stark visual contrast in color between horse shxt brown and starched cadet FD trou white.
During the Jan. 1989 Inaugural of President Bush-I, I was assigned on a TAD/TDY basis to be a temporary military aide to the first Drug Czar, Dr. John Bennett. (I was assigned to this post by the legendary Captain (later Colonel) Mike Riley, USMCR (Ret.) ’79, who was a big player in the military committee supporting the Inaugural. (I served with Mike three times – Okinawa with the 3d Mar Div, HQMC and Baghdad at HQ, USF-I), and that alone ought to have earned me a high level medal.)
Mrs. Bennett was expecting and was not feeling well, so we departed the Inauguration Ceremony early; got in the VIP sedan awaiting us behind the Capitol, and began to depart the area. We drove past a contingent of Cid cadets forming up to march down Pennsylvania Avenue in the parade. Dr. Bennett recognized them as Citadel cadets and commented that the phrase “zero tolerance” (of illegal drug abuse) that he used was a phrase he had borrowed from the late and great MG James Grimsley, USA (Ret.) ’42. Dr. B. said that he had given a greater issues speech at The Citadel, and he had asked the General what was his policy on drug abuse. MG Grimsley replied, “zero tolerance.” Dr. Bennett said that phrase really resonated within him and he used it ever since. Mrs. Bennett commented that a close family friend of hers while growing up was Dr. Ira Rapp (Regimental CO ’70). Mrs. B. and Ira’s sister were best friends growing up.
That night I escorted the Bennet’s to dinner at a fancy WDC restaurant before taking them to an Inaugural Ball. I waited for them in the lobby. I was approached by the late political humor columnist, Art Buchwald, who had given Greater Issue speeches twice at The Citadel, one of which I saw when I was a cadet. Mr. Buchwald was a Marine in WW-II, so when he saw a Marine officer, he came up to chat amiably. He was very funny and unpretentious. While we were chatting, a gentleman came up to speak to Mr. Buchwald. Art was clearly continuing to chat with me just to keep this guy waiting. While impatiently waiting, the poor (figuratively, NOT literally) guy was accosted by a couple of society matrons who hit him up for a donation to their favorite charity. This fellow was one Mr. Donald Trump, whose own Inauguration we will soon celebrate. Thus bringing the 2017 SG’s and our world-class Band Company to WDC.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2017 to you all. God bless.”
Each year at Christmas time and the end of the school year parents of cadets at The Citadel begin to think of gift items either for their cadet or one that has been particularly helpful to their cadet. It’s a bit late for this advice to be helpful for this year’s Christmas but the ideas below will stand for any occasion, including graduation.
Gift Cards for restaurants and movie theaters in the area are always welcomed. Knobs won’t be able to have food delivered to the barracks until after Recognition Day, but they do get into town on the weekends. Popular restaurants include Moe’s Southwest Grill, Mama Kim’s, Jim’n Nick’s BBQ, and Sticky Fingers. There are many more restaurants in Charleston, just call them to see if they offer gift cards. Restaurant gift cards make a nice gift for host families too.
Netflix, Amazon Prime and other online entertainment options are popular with cadets. This gift may be a better option after knob year.
Other gift ideas for cadets include: A watch, coffee maker or hot-pot, good sunglasses, small 6 pack cooler, a good pillow, noise canceling headphones.
If they are a hunter items like a good hunting knife or other equipment.
Some cadets enjoy gift cards for an experience like skydiving, a boat/fishing trip or other activity.
Winter furlough begins today for cadets at The Citadel. A time to celebrate to be sure.
Some will be thrilled with the grades their cadet achieved this semester. Others will not have fared that well and you’ll most likely have questions. The notes and links below should answer most of your questions. The links below will also bring you to the pages to find contact information for the appropriate person or department to address your questions. While this advice is manly for first year families, parents of cadets in all years may find the links helpful
If your cadet needs academic support they should see the Academic Support Center the beginning of second semester. If the grades were really not up to standard, your cadet will need to communicate with their academic adviser and possibly the Dean. This page for Academic Advising FAQs may help answer a few questions.
If you or your cadet will need to contact someone on campus, be aware the offices are closed from Dec. 22 – Jan. 2. See this press release for Winter Furlough Hours of Operation
Throughout the year if you have a question about something on campus and you aren’t sure who to talk to on campus, you can ask a few people.
If you’ve read this blog for a while you’ll already know this next bit of information. As I mentioned in this post from 2012, the beginning of second semester is tough for all cadets, knobs to seniors. They’ve just spent close to a month at home visiting with family and friends. Coming back to cadet life, getting up early, PT in the cold dark days of winter, is a tough reality.
For parents of knobs, if your son or daughter hasn’t questions their decision to attend The Citadel before, January and February are the months you may field that call. If you do get “the call” remind them that they are stronger than they think they are, encourage them to talk to their classmates. Once they talk to their classmates and other friends in the Corps they will realize they are not alone. It’s still tough but they will get through it. Remind them that Recognition Day is not too far off, March 17, this year.
This experience is so common the cadets have a name for it, the PG version is F’d up February. It is also tough when their friends decide for a variety of reasons not to return.
If you are a family with a student who has decided to leave The Citadel, I wish you and your student the best in their next endeavors.
My best wishes to all The Citadel cadets and families this holiday season.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah-Chanukah, Happy New Year!!