Thomas Blaney graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1967. Fifty years later, his granddaughter, Class of 2017 Cadet Megan Blaney, will be doing the same.The connection between 50-year affiliate classes is special. Old Grads get to relive their milestones with cadets throughout their 47-month experience, offering advice, working together and strengthening the Long Gray Line as it serves our nation.For the Blaney's, the affiliation is extra special."Ever since I was little, I knew I wanted to come here to be just like my grandfather and father (Mike, USMA Class of 1990)," Megan remarked. "To say that I have accomplished that dream and that I stand next to them in the Long Gray Line, I feel very proud."Thomas, a retired colonel who currently resides in Georgia, has made frequent trips back to his rockbound highland home over the years, taking part in his sons' West Point experiences (Classes of 1990 and 1993), and now, for Megan.Thomas participated in the March Back with Megan and her father in 2013, presented her the coin for Affirmation, and now most recently, was able to celebrate her Ring Ceremony, Aug. 26."The ring ceremony to me is tradition, and knowing that my grandfather and father did the same exact thing, or something similar, is something special," Megan said.In fact, Thomas, holds true to that tradition."I wear it all the time," he said about his ring.He also says that over the last half-century, he has recognized some changes at the Academy."The biggest thing that I notice is they have a lot more freedoms, the cadets today," Thomas said, recalling his time spent at West Point during his Plebe Christmas in 1963, a restriction that was done away with in 1964.However, he says that today's focus on leadership has impressed him."There's a lot more emphasis on leadership for the cadets today as opposed to when I was here," Thomas noted. "I think it is cadet- leadership focused today, and when I was here they didn't have the TAC-NCO's, and I think they play a big role in developing the leadership of cadets."Speaking of leadership, Thomas was excited to say that his granddaughter was named Company Commander for Company B-4, noting, "She did a lot better than I did!"Thomas also thanks the Academy for instilling some of the values that he and Megan share."She has self-discipline, loyalty, dedication and a sense of duty," he said. "She feels very strongly that she wanted to serve her country."While her grandfather attributes Megan's successes to her own self-discipline, she says that her grandfather has played a big part in her achievements."Knowing that I am going through something similar to him makes me want to push myself that much harder, to make him proud and prove that I can do it," she said.It's clear that the admiration is mutual. "I'm immensely proud, I mean, I couldn't be happier, she's worked so hard," Thomas said.The pair joined Megan's father and the rest of their family after the ceremony, showing off their rings, and taking photos of their "crass mass of brass and glass." The next time they'll be together will be during the final milestone, Graduation, in May."Knowing that my grandfather has been able to share these milestones with me and my classmates is an amazing experience and one that I would never change," she said. "Seeing where I am now and knowing that my grandfather is part of my 50-year affiliate class, is a feeling unmatched by anything else."