The Citadel: Parents Weekend Notes For Parents of the Class of 2014 and 2017

The Class of 2011 wait to receive their rings. photo by Stanley Leary
The Class of 2011 wait to receive their rings.
photo by Stanley Leary

This is the time of the summer when I begin to get private messages from parents with cadets at The Citadel. The new parents have questions about getting ready for Matriculation Day, the day the new cadets report. The parents of rising seniors are preparing for Parents Weekend, which is also referred to as Ring Weekend, the day the qualified seniors receive their class ring.

Looking back on the four years my son was a cadet I can understand why there are so many questions about these two events. The school does a great job of posting helpful information, but there are times when a mother just wants to get the opinion of someone who has gone through the experience. Right now the Facebook group for 2017 parents is growing daily with new parents. It is a great place to ask questions of parents of graduates and to meet other new parents.

My mantra with all parents is to remember there is no one right way to do things at The Citadel. Each cadet will have their own goals and possess their own gifts and talents. A general rule of thumb is to talk to your cadet about their preferences before you resource with others. That is especially true about preparing for knob year.

If you wonder whether to purchase a certain item, ask your cadet if they want it first. A recent thread on a Facebook group grew to over 30 comments when a parent asked about bringing printers. Ultimately it is a personal preference. If you ask five different people their opinion, you will hear five different answers.

My son invited a good friend to join us as we went through the ring. photo by Stanley Leary
My son invited a good friend to join us as we went through the ring.
photo by Stanley Leary

Most of the questions from parents of seniors this summer deal with what a mom should wear to the Ring Ceremony Friday night. Some traditional rules about attire for Ring Weekend are now more flexible in practice. Traditionally in any social context you dress for the occasion based on the uniform of the day. For seniors this means their full dress grey uniform, their most formal. They wear this uniform to receive their rings and to walk through the Ring during the ceremony Friday night. SO to follow the traditional rules of etiquette, the mom and or date should wear a formal outfit.

That said you will see all types of outfits on the attendees at both events. Our family opted to wear nice “Sunday” attire Friday afternoon. For the Friday night Ring Ceremony I wore a formal gown. My 11-year-old daughter wore a nice dress and my husband was in a suit and tie. Scroll to the bottom of this entry to see a variety of dresses we saw in 2010.

The Cadet Activities office handles the schedule for the weekend, including the schedule of when each company goes through the Ring. Be sure to check their website and the school website for the schedule. When your cadet’s company goes through the ring will dictate when you plan to have dinner that night. Many companies, or groups of friends, get together for a group dinner that evening. Not everyone does, however. Another example of when you need to coordinate with your cadet. Moms, as you are selecting shoes to wear be aware that you may have to wait in a long line to walk through the ring. It is really an opportunity to have your photo taken as you walk through the giant replica of the ring. After you walk through the ring you can go to the Ring Hop, or take a carriage ride through the campus.

Bravo Company Class of 2014 prepare to receive their company letter. October 4 this year they will wear the ring. photo by Stanley Leary
Bravo Company Class of 2014 prepare to receive their company letter. October 4 this year they will wear the ring.
photo by Stanley Leary

For the first year knobs, Friday afternoon and evening is a time to relax with their family and friends. Knobs and their families do not attend the Ring Hop Friday night. I was told by a TAC officer in 1st battalion that they prefer the knobs to get out of the barracks and off campus while the seniors are receiving their rings. The school will publish a schedule which will include an academic open house Friday afternoon and usually an update from the president. Knobs will have to have their rooms in order for the early morning open barracks, so they try to get back to the barracks before the Midnight curfew.

Saturday morning the barracks will be open to guests. They usually have coffee and donuts in Mark Clark Hall along with an opportunity to purchase photos and other items from various vendors. At about 10:00 each company conducts their promotion ceremony for knobs. They are promoted from cadet recruits to cadet privates at the ceremony. The parade follows the ceremony and is before lunchtime. After the parade families get together for lunch with their cadets either in the mess hall or they bring a picnic or purchase a boxed lunch through the school.

The cadets have to march to the football game together. They also have to sit together in the stands. It is fun to go to the game, then see the Summerall Guards perform at half-time. Many families enjoy tailgate parties outside the stadium before, during, and after the game.

I’ll include links here to previous posts about the weekend.

The Citadel: Recognition Day and Ring Weekend

Special Weekends: Parents Weekend, Homecoming, Corps Day, Recognition Day

The Citadel: Parents Weekend and Ring Weekend Tips

Senior Parent notes

The Citadel: Parents/Ring Weekend 2012 + Hotel Info

A few photos from Friday night and Saturday follow:

Bravo Company Cadre and knobs do a set of push ups at the end of the ceremony. photo by Stanley Leary
Bravo Company Cadre and knobs do a set of push ups at the end of the ceremony.
photo by Stanley Leary
Bravo cadet officers lead the push ups for the CLass of 2014 promotion ceremony. photo by Stanley Leary
Bravo cadet officers lead the push ups for the CLass of 2014 promotion ceremony.
photo by Stanley Leary

 

You will see all types of outfits on the moms during the Ring Ceremony. These are a few examples. photo by Stanley Leary
You will see all types of outfits on the moms during the Ring Ceremony. These are a few examples.
photo by Stanley Leary
You will also see other family members in addition to Moms going through with their cadet. photo by Stanley Leary
You will also see other family members in addition to Moms going through with their cadet.
photo by Stanley Leary
photo by Stanley Leary
photo by Stanley Leary

 

photo by Stanley Leary
photo by Stanley Leary
photo by Stanley Leary
photo by Stanley Leary

 

Our family outside 1st Battalion after the ring presentation.
Our family outside 1st Battalion after the ring presentation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Citadel and the Fellowship of THE Ring

The Ring
photo by Stanley Leary

When I was 13 years old my brother gave me The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. Years later my oldest son became interested in the tales of J.R.R. Tolkien. The books involve a tale of the One Ring that controls the others.

Years later I was struck at the similarities and differences between the One Ring and The Ring the senior cadets at The Citadel receive their senior year. The One Ring is one of power over people. The Citadel ring that a graduate wears is also one of power. The Citadel ring’s strength is in the power of friendship forged through the tough training the cadets endure over their four years. The power of The Citadel ring goes beyond the graduates and in many cases influences the families of the one who wears the ring.

One of the most moving accounts of the bond forged by the graduates who wear the ring is told by Pat Conroy. He told this story in his book, My Losing Season, and he also told the story in his commencement address in 2001. I can’t read the story without tears welling up in my eyes. Talk to many graduates and their families and they can tell you their own story of the Ring. In her book In the Company of Men, Nancy Mace details her father’s story of recovering his lost ring in the swampy fields of Vietnam.

Two weeks from now the Class of 2013 will receive their rings. It is a huge weekend for seniors and their families. My son used to say that the ring, and what it symbolizes, is more important to him than his diploma. Everyone who graduates from a college or university gets a diploma. Not everyone can earn the right to wear The Citadel Ring.

Over the past five years I have had the privilege to see what the power of this ring can do. As the chair of the Georgia Citadel Parents Group for a few years I had the honor of witnessing the kindness of the members of the Atlanta Citadel Club when they heard a cadet was in need. One had trouble meeting the out-of-state tuition and was helped by a graduate. Another family had a crisis and weren’t sure they could get their cadet home, the alumni offered to pay for a flight. If a knob needed a ride back to campus from Georgia I just posted the need and within minutes offers to help would pour in.

This giving nature also applies to the families of the cadets. A family suffered the death of a grandparent. Their cadet couldn’t afford to travel to the funeral. A ticket arrived in the mail paid for by another family who heard of their need. When a cadet or graduate is deployed the moral support for the family of the soldier pours in.

Each year cadets and graduates are sent overseas to war. When one Citadel Mom learned that current cadets were going to war she founded The Citadel Heroes Project. Volunteers donate items and cards that are sent to the deployed cadets and graduates a few times a year. It is a huge effort that means so much to the recipients.

A young graduate died just months after graduation and before he reported to his first duty station. The roommate of the deceased was left behind to tie up the loose ends. A few of us attended the memorial service in Summerall Chapel. I was asked to read a poem during the service on behalf of the Citadel Family Association. A few of us moms learned it was difficult for the surviving roommate to go to the mail box each day and see mail to his deceased classmate/roommate/good friend. The Citadel Moms each took a week and sent baked goods gift cards for coffee shops and food. For eight weeks the surviving roommate went to his mailbox to find these gifts of love and support from his Citadel Moms.

Recently it was brought to the attention of a group of alumni that a few seniors, due to a number of circumstances, couldn’t afford to pay off the balance on their rings. Within a matter of hours alumni of all types, young and old, male and female, came together to donate the money needed to pay off the rings for these deserving seniors. When parents of current cadets and graduates heard of this effort, they too wanted to help. It was an amazing show of support by the members of The Citadel family. On October 12 the qualified cadets will receive their rings with the rest of their class.

Wearing the ring is something I will never experience. It was my son and his classmates that proved they were worthy of the honor of joining the Long Gray Line of graduates. They are family, not just classmates. I can tell you being a family member of the person who wears the ring makes you part of their extended Citadel family.

Pat Conroy used the sentence “I wear the ring.” in The Lords of Discipline to summarize the importance of his time at The Citadel and the bond he shares with others who wear the ring. The cadets who went through the rigors of the 4th Class System understand that sentence differently than any one else who reads it.

The parents and family members of the cadets and graduates can only get glimpses of what it means.

Bravo ’11 wear the ring. Photo by Stanley Leary
A group of friends who met through their cadets time at The Citadel.
photo by Stanley Leary

The Citadel: Parents/Ring Weekend 2012 + Hotel Info

Knobs line the street Friday afternoon. The seniors will process between them on their way to receive their rings in the field house.

Only four weeks until Parents Weekend at The Citadel. I won’t be attending the events, but I am in touch with quite a few parents who are looking forward to October 12. Parents of knobs can’t wait to visit their knob and see the barracks and the other activities on campus. The senior parents, especially the moms, are getting ready to see their cadet receive their hard-earned ring and walk through the giant replica of the ring Friday night.

Bravo Company banner, 2007.

Knob parents:

  • Parking is hard to find so get to campus early and plan to walk a lot.
  • If you can, arrive early enough on Friday to see the knobs line the street in front of the barracks. The seniors will walk between the knobs on their way to receive their rings. he knobs cheer them on as they pass by.
  • Friday afternoon belongs to the seniors. You are encouraged to visit the academic departments with your knob then take them off campus for the afternoon and evening.
  • Be sure to pay special attention to the company banner Saturday morning. The knobs work very hard to make sure the banner looks great. There are also bulletin boards to take note of as well.
  • Make lunch plans for Saturday. You can eat in the Coward Mess hall with your cadet and will need a ticket. You can purchase them in advance or on Friday afternoon through the Cadet Activities office. Boxed lunches are also available or you can bring your own lunch.
  • Bravo Company banner, 2010.
    photo by Stanley Leary
Bulletin board recognizing the one 2011 Summerall Guard member in Bravo Company.
photo by Stanley Leary

The promotion ceremony, 2010.
photo by Stanley Leary
The Ring Presentation ceremony begins. 2010
photo by Stanley Leary

Senior parents:

  • If you can arrive Thursday evening so you can get to campus early on Friday. The parking as on most big weekends is tight.
  • Dress for the afternoon should be in keeping with the occasion. The cadets are in their most formal uniform. You will see people in a variety of different types of clothes. a Jacket and tie for the gentlemen and a dress or nice slacks for the ladies is appropriate. Again you’ll see families in a variety of different clothes Friday afternoon.
  • Friday evening plans will revolve around when your cadets company is scheduled to go through the ring. Cadet Activities posts the schedule.
  • Dress for the mothers and anyone else going through the ring with the cadet is formal.
  • Check with your cadet to see what the plans are for dinner that night. Some eat before they go through the ring others go after.
  • Ladies, be aware that  you may be standing behind the scenes for a while before you go through the ring.
  • Family members not going through the ring go inside the field house to watch the presentations.
Our family outside 1st Battalion after the ring ceremony.

If you plan on being in Charleston for the weekend I hope you have your hotel reservations. If not, I have some information to share with you regarding availability.

Hotels I’ve checked with have given me the following availability and rate information for Parents Weekend and Homecoming. You can also try hotels.com or another web site to find a hotel at a good rate. Vrbo.com is a good place to start if you’d like a rental property. If you are staying three nights and are looking for a rental property call recent grad, Chip Morrison, of Carolina One Realty, 843-343-3525.

  • Comfort Inn near campus has availability for both parents Weekend and Homecoming. Call directly and ask for The Citadel rate. They also offer a frequent guest program. Be sure to ask about it at the desk at check in.
  • Fairfield Inn & Suites Charleston North/Univ Area Call directly and ask for The Citadel rate. They offer a discount on their regular rate.
  • Hawthorn Suites has some rooms for Oct. 13th  and still has availability for Homecoming. Call directly and ask for The Citadel rate.  $74 plus tax.
  • Homewood Suites Charleston Airport is offering a nightly rate of $137 plus tax for Parents Weekend. Call the front desk, 843-735-5000 and ask for The Citadel rate.
  • LaQuinta Inn & Suites Charleston Riverview is sold out for Parents Weekend but does have rooms for Homecoming. Call directly and ask for The Citadel rate. $92 plus tax.
  • Marriott Charleston has a limited amount of rooms for October 13 for the special rate of $189. For Homecoming they have a few rooms left and selling for a two night minimum for Friday and Saturday. THe rate is $319 per room per night.
  • Residence Inn by Marriott Downtown/Riverview Limited rooms available. Call directly and ask for The Citadel rate. They offer a discount on their regular rate.
  • SpringHill Suites by Marriott Riverview Limited rooms available. Call directly and ask for The Citadel rate. They offer a discount on their regular rate.

Other posts about Parents Weekend/Ring Weekend:

The Citadel: Recognition Day and Ring Weekend

Special Weekends: Parents Weekend, Homecoming, Corps Day, Recognition Day

The Citadel: Parents Weekend and Ring Weekend Tips

Senior Parent notes

You’ll see a variety of outfits Friday night at the Ring Ceremony: