By Brandon O'Connor, USMAAugust 24, 2018
With an order given, the 1,192 members of the U.S. Military Academy Class of 2022 began to march. Assembled on The Plain, the Corps of Cadets opened their ranks and stood ready to accept their newest members.
For six weeks, the Class of 2022 had worked to earn its spot in the Corps. They battled through Cadet Basic Training, learned what it means to be U.S. Military Academy cadets and proved their grit by marching 12 miles back to West Point from Camp Buckner.
Now, it was time to take their place among the Corps and begin their journey to join the Long Gray Line.
The march across the field during the Acceptance Day Parade Aug. 18 marked the Class of 2022's official acceptance as plebes as they took their places with their regiments for the first time.
"It was amazing. I am really glad that they accepted all of our class. It was great to be a part of that," Class of 2022 Cadet Hunter Meade, from Bristow, Virginia, said of the Acceptance Day Parade. "It was pretty inspiring to me. I know all of the new cadets were very happy to finally become plebes. The one word to describe it is indescribable."
As they took their place in line prior to the review portion of the parade, the families, friends and alumni who filled the bleachers and lined the sidewalks around The Plain erupted in applause.
"Kind of surreal," said Clare Jaget, from Las Vegas, of seeing her son Sebastian officially join the Corps. "I support him of course. It was his dream to do this. It is awesome. I am proud as heck. I want him to broaden his horizons, learn as many things as he can and follow his dreams. He wants to make the military his career."
The Class of 2022 includes 11 combat veterans, 16 foreign cadets and 765 cadets direct admitted from high school among its members, but while their journeys here may have varied, during their time at West Point they are all working toward the common goal of becoming the next generation of leaders in the Army.
"My high school principal was a West Point grad and one day after class he stopped me and said, 'I think you have the characteristics for a military academy. I want you to go visit West Point,'" Class of 2022 Cadet Madison Faust, from Allentown, Pennsylvania, said of why she came to West Point. "At the time, I thought no, that is crazy. I would never do that. That weekend, I told my dad and he booked a trip right away. I came here and I loved it."
Their 47-month tenure at West Point started July 2 on Reception Day. For the next four years, the Class of 2022 will work to grow as students and leaders before being commissioned as second lieutenants and taking a leadership role in the Army.
"I wanted to serve my country and I also love a challenge and there is nothing more challenging than coming here. It has been quite busy, hard and difficult, but I wouldn't want to be anywhere else," Class of 2022 Cadet Bianca Gonzalez, from Norco, California, said. "It was breathtaking knowing that all your hard work has paid off. Especially this last month. It was really difficult, but it was worth it and being in that line made it so much better. What I am hoping to get out of my time here is become a better individual, know myself better and become the leader I want to be."
Following the parade and a jump by the West Point Parachute team, the cadets were reunited with their parents for a brief period of leave before beginning classes Monday morning.
"It was a great experience," Missy Brewer, from Keller, Texas, said of seeing her son Clayton, who attended the prep school last year, accepted into the Corps of Cadets. "He was looking forward to it. He didn't start fresh, he knew what it was and he was looking forward to coming back. He got a year of maturity and he made some friends that he'll have when he is an old man. It was great."