An Army Mom Reflects and Gives Thanks

We made it through our first Christmas with our soldier deployed. While we missed him, we did manage to have a very nice holiday with friends and family. Like many people I tend to become reflective this time of year. I thought I’d share some rambling thoughts and reflection about this past Christmas.

Two years ago Christmas day the first blog post I wrote for the military blog site Off the Base was published. The Making of a Military Mom started me on a journey I could never have imagined. When Bobbie O’Brien first asked me to contribute to the blog as the mom of an Army ROTC cadet soon to be officer my first response was, “Thank you, but I am not a writer.” Little did I know when I finally agreed to give it a try that my entries about our experience at The Citadel would be so well received. Eventually I posted my own blog. I’ve met so many wonderful people through this blog either in person, on Facebook, or through email. We have a very supportive community.

This Christmas a group of friends joined me and donated items to be sent to my son’s platoon for Christmas. We heard via Facebook the gift bags arrived right before Christmas. I was thrilled to hear all the boxes we had sent finally arrived. When I asked for photos he told me they would be coming. I checked email and Facebook several times a day hoping to see photos of our guy. A few days before Christmas our daughter asked me what I wanted most for Christmas. I told her, “I’d like a picture of soldiers in Afghanistan.” What a wonderful gift to receive Christmas morning in my stocking. While it wasn’t the picture I expected, it was one of the most thoughtful presents I have ever received.

This picture was in my stocking Christmas morning. A gift from my daughter.
This picture was in my stocking Christmas morning. A gift from my daughter.

She also gave me a t-shirt with the little blue fish, Dory, from Finding Nemo. (In case I forget my name I can look at the shirt.)

In case I ever forget my name, I can look at my shirt. A gift from our daughter.
In case I ever forget my name, I can look at my shirt. A gift from our daughter.

A few days after Christmas an email arrived with three photos. Two of the platoon with the gift bags we sent and one of our guy in a hat we sent to him as a present. It made for a great start to the New Year. The guys look good and we could make out a few of the children’s Christmas pictures in the bags we sent.

Delta Company Christmas photo.
Delta Company Christmas photo.
Delta Company Christmas photo #2
Delta Company Christmas photo #2

New Year’s Eve 2012 marked the 19th year of working in the press box as a volunteer for what is now called the Chick-fil-A Bowl. No matter what changes I am going through in a given year the one constant for 19 years has been this activity. It is like a family reunion each year. My favorite person to catch up with is a gentleman our daughter calls Mr. Walter. He works for the Georgia Dome security during the bowl and his station is right next to the information table in the press box where I work. He is a wonderful, caring, man who is a wiz with statistics of all kinds. He was profiled in the Atlanta Journal Constitution in the past few years. He is an Atlanta celebrity among event goers since he works at multiple venues. I always enjoy our time catching up together at the Bowl. It is also fun to see the various reporters and others who attend the game.

Dorie and Walter catching up during their annual reunion.
Dorie and Walter catching up during their annual reunion.
Members of the press getting ready for the start of the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Members of the press getting ready for the start of the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Before Christmas I put word out that the soldiers in our son’s battalion needed some basic supplies. While they had the basic necessities some are stationed in remote areas and could use a few more basics. The response has been amazing! Checks began to arrive right away. I am told more are in the mail now. To date I have received $1,200 to go toward supplies. Several other people said checks are on the way. I am working with the family readiness group to determine what is needed and the items should be on their way next week. An initial shipment of military cold weather socks are on their way to our son’s platoon along with another shipment of the coveted soft toilet paper.

I am overwhelmed with these gifts in addition to the many people who have sent boxes to our son and his platoon. Many of these people I have only met a few times, or only know through online networks like Citadel parent Facebook groups. Some are teachers and have sent boxes of goodies and needed items along with letters from children. My son tells me the guys really like the boxes I send the best. I really think he means the boxes of items I and our friends send. In a very real way I feel we are a small part of a huge family that includes: Citadel families, Army families, childhood friends, college friends, church friends, and a few caring people who read the blog and I have never met.

This past week a package arrived from a Citadel mom. It included a card and check and a very special gift for my daughter and me. A picture frame with two patriotic angel pins. Tears came to my eyes when I read the card. The sender is a military spouse. She has a first year knob at The Citadel and has given me some very helpful tips the past few months. She told me that while the Citadel parents are like family that the military family is even larger.

A beautiful gift from a Citadel mom who is also a military spouse. She is also our angel.
A beautiful gift from a Citadel mom who is also a military spouse. She is also our angel.

I am so blessed to have so many wonderful and supportive friends. I am beginning 2013 with the firm knowledge that our family is blessed to have such a wonderful group of people surrounding us with their care and their prayers.

A Few Notes Before the Weekend

Bravo knobs prepare for the promotion ceremony on Parent’s Weekend.
photo by Seth Ruff

The first week of training is almost over for the first year cadets, or Knobs, at The Citadel. It is a stressful time each year for the knobs and their families. Their phones should be returned sometime early next week. It is important to remember that the cadre in the company do have some leeway with the when exactly the phones are returned. The computers are the same way. Just wait until you get a call or email. Then be as positive as you can. Realize that some knobs will vent to family because they are the only ones to whom they can vent/complain.

By now the school Post Office has sent quite a few USPS boxes and labels to new families. Not everyone receives them. You can order your own online for free at We used the 1096L Priority box then put it in the Flat Rate envelope to save money on postage. It is a little larger than the small flat rate boxes.

Saturday afternoon the knobs will have a little fun when they attend the annual football team scrimmage. The knobs act as cheerleaders for the game.

The Cadet Activities office hosts an evening event Saturday that features a hypnotist. It is always fun to see the photos of the event. Be sure to bookmark the Cadet Activities web page and Facebook page for photos and important information. You can order cookies for your knobs birthday or other special occasion through their office. No knob wants to stand out in the group so remember not to make a big deal out of their birthday on campus.

Once classes get started a regular rhythm sets in to the week. It’s a busy rhythm, but it will become fairly routine.

I understand the Commandant told the new families on Matriculation Day that August 26 the knobs will get their first leave for 7 hours. While it may be tempting to rush to see them, it is the first time they have a chance to get off campus with their new friends and begin to bond as a class. You’ll have plenty of weekends to visit. Many local cadets bring friends home with them too.

A proud baby sister tries to point to her big brothers name on the Bravo Company board. Parent’s Weekend, 2008

Just a reminder to take time to learn the school website, especially the training schedules, photos and External Affairs pages. The Facebook pages for External Affairs, The Citadel Bookstore, and The Department of Cadet Activities will post information and photos throughout your cadets time at The Citadel.

Welcome to the Parents of the Class of 2016

In less than a month The Citadel Class of 2016 will report for Matriculation Day. If I didn’t own a calendar I could tell the day was approaching by the search terms used to find this blog. Various takes on knob year populate the search terms. The questions asked by parents of the Class of 2016 are becoming more focused as the big day approaches.

Matriculation Day, 2010. The Bravo Company cadre lead the knobs to lunch.

A few parents of graduates started a Facebook group to support new families. Only parents of graduates are on the group page along with parents of the entering class. The group is a great resource for new parents. Some of the new parents are graduates of The Citadel, some of the parents of graduates are alums too.

One of my big frustrations was finding out basic information about the school because my son rarely told me much and my ex-husband was the one who received official information from the school. This blog is the result of  years of research and study of both The Citadel and the 4th Class System. My hope is that new families will feel just a little better prepare than I was to send my son off to this leadership school.

I’ve written about this before, but one of the biggest surprises for me in the whole experiences was that ended up with many very good friends. These friends are now helping me as I learn about being the mom of an officer in the U.S. Army.

Recently, through a connection made through an alum of The Citadel, I began a correspondence with a 1LT in the Army who is now serving in Afghanistan. When I asked him if I could send anything he replied, “We need sunscreen, hard to come by. I have about 15 soldiers who pull 12 hr. shifts in the sun. If it could be sent to me I’ll distribute out.”

Walgreen’s in Roswell gave me a 25% discount on sunscreen. We also purchased some from Dollar Tree and Big Lots.

I promptly posted a note to my Facebook page asking if anyone would like to help out by either purchasing sunscreen or sending funds to defray the postage. Within a few minutes one Facebook friend who is a military reporter sent $25. A high school friend sent a generous check as did several Citadel parents and a few church friends. Right now I have $105 in checks. A few Citadel parents are sending boxes directly to the 1LT. A few of these parents have children who haven’t even started their first year as a cadet.

The first boxes of sunscreen are in the mail. A few more will go out this week.

To the parents of the Class of 2016 WELCOME. You are about to join a tremendously supportive group of people.

The Citadel: Official and Unofficial Facebook Groups and Pages

UPDATED 06/17/2015

Various offices and groups on the campus of The Citadel have their own Facebook pages and/or groups. These pages and groups can provide a link for parents to keep up with what is happening on campus. The following list includes official school groups and pages, but also groups and pages started by cadets, parents and alumni.

If you know of others that should be added, please let me know.

Art at The Citadel

The Citadel Admissions

The Citadel Alumni Association

The Citadel Army ROTC

The Citadel Bookstore

The Citadel Brigadier Foundation, Inc.

The Citadel – Department of Cadet Activities

The Citadel 

The Citadel Football

The Citadel Foundation

The Citadel Graduate College

The Citadel Intramurals

The Citadel Lacrosse Program

The Citadel Republican Society

The Citadel School of Business Administration

The Citadel School of Engineering

The Citadel Sports

The Citadel Sports Network

The Citadel Student Government Association

The Citadel Young Alumni

Citadel Ice Hockey

Citadel Sailing

Citadel SHSS – School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Citadel Sports/Charleston Post and Courier

Citadel Strength & Conditioning

Naval ROTC Unit The Citadel

The Summerall Guard Foundation

Battalion Groups for Citadel Parents (unofficial NOT administered by the CFA)

Citadel 1st Battalion Parents Group

Citadel 2nd Battalion Parents Group

Citadel 3rd Battalion Parents Group

Citadel 4th Battalion Families (Open Group)

Citadel 4th Battalion Parents Group (Closed Group)

Citadel 5th Battalion Families

Area Groups (unofficial NOT administered by the CFA)

California Citadel Parents Group

Georgia Citadel Parents Group

MD VA DC Citadel Parents Group

NC Citadel Family Group

Citadel Fayetteville NC Group

South Carolina Citadel Parents

Texas Citadel Parents Group

NYNE PA NJ Citadel Families (NY, New England, PA, NJ)

Florida Citadel Parents Group

Company  Parent Groups (unofficial NOT administered by the CFA)

Alpha Co

Band Co

Bravo Co

Kilo Co

Lima Co (Parents and Cadets)

Other Parent Groups

Citadel Alumni Grad Dad Advice

Citadel Moms

Military Parents of The Citadel (for parents with cadets or graduates in the military)

The Citadel Parents of the Class of 2016

The Citadel: Parents of the Class of 2017

The Citadel: Parents of the Class of 2018

The Citadel: Parents of the Class of 2019