By Zach Watson for The Island Connection
One hour before sunrise on March 13, The Citadel class of 2023 was officially recognized as members of the South Carolina Corps of Cadets – two weeks early because of the dynamic situation involving COVID-19.
Recognition Day is one of the most important events in the life of a cadet. It’s when freshmen cadet recruits officially become cadets after months of training. It means the end of rigid formations, walking in single file at breakneck speed and the highly-regimented way of life that is The Citadel’s fourth-class system. It’s the beginning of a new chapter in The Citadel’s leadership development process.
After hours of grueling physical work followed by a spirit run, cadets were called onto the checkered floor of their barracks where, after more push-ups, they listened in silent exhaustion for a message from Regimental Commander Richard Snyder.
The decision to move Recognition Day was made to ensure that the class of 2023 was properly recognized if the campus had to be closed later in the semester.
“I think actually seeing it come to life – it added a different flavor that none of us got to experience,” said Snyder. “And the privacy of doing it with just the cadets, because there are very few things on this campus that are really just the cadets, made for a much more family atmosphere – just getting to do it with your peers and do it with the people who trained you the entire year.”
“The world’s really in a crisis situation right now,” Snyder added. “This event is more important than our graduation, I think, because this would affect the next four years of the institution.”
Apart from the Gauntlet, all other planned March activities were canceled because of COVID-19. Since March 23, all classes at the school have been held online.
“I think as leaders you have to take the things you don’t necessarily like and make the most of it,” said Snyder. “And I think we did that as a class and did that as an institution. I think it’s a good life lesson, that you never know when things are going to get cut short, or you never know when you’re not going to get the time you wanted.”