By Brandon OConnorJuly 3, 2019
WEST POINT, N.Y. -- "Step up to my line. Not on my line. Not over my line," echoes the yell of the cadet in the red sash throughout central area.
Nail the about-face, recite the correct lines and don't forget to salute when introducing yourself, all while the cadet with the red sash stands inches away from your face. Mess up any part and you'll have to turn back around and start the process over.
Within hours of arriving at the U.S. Military Academy for Reception Day, the members of the Class of 2023 started getting a crash course in what life is like for a Plebe at the academy. Head straight, eyes forward. Those hands better be cupped and don't even think about speaking without first being spoken to.
After going through inprocessing where they take a pullup test, sign the oath and receive their first uniforms, the new cadets are taught the basics such as saluting, standing at attention and how to march. Then, after passing the cadet in the red sash's test, the new cadets in the Class of 2023 are ready to join their companies for Cadet Basic Training.
The Class of 2023 includes 1,211 new cadets who began their 47-month West Point experience on R-Day. Their transition from civilian life to being in the military started early Monday morning and will continue through CBT until they officially become a West Point cadet on Acceptance Day.
"I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself and I knew West Point is the best leadership academy you can possibly go to," New Cadet Michael Dwerlkotte said. "The combination of those two factors led me to choose West Point."
After their initial introduction to the academy, new cadets were given a minute to say goodbye to their families who they won't see again until Acceptance Day in August. They then filed off after receiving their first command from a senior cadet.
"When she was little, she either wanted to be an elf or a sniper. How do you parent that?" USMA Class of 1986 graduate Terri Boylan Bell said of her daughter New Cadet Mary Bell. "This isn't totally unexpected. She's always been a protector by nature, so this is a very natural thing for her ... I am so proud that she has chosen to serve. That is where I think I get the most emotional. I am so proud of her."
The new cadets in the Class of 2023 come from all throughout the country and also 16 foreign cadets. For New Cadet Mackenzie Arns, the inspiration to serve and attend West Point came not from family members in the military, but from time spent reenacting historic battles.
"I'm a Civil War re-enactor so a lot of people I have met through that have been in the military themselves," Arns said. "It inspired me to follow the same path they did. I also want to be a chemical engineer, and this is an excellent engineering school."
Throughout the summer, the new cadets will learn the basics of being in the military including marksmanship and teamwork, all with plenty of rucking and running in the mix.
"I'm actually looking forward to the (training) a lot," New Cadet Zenon Stepien said. "I think it is going to be fun. Hopefully I'm right. People keep telling me that I'm not right, but hopefully I am."