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Matriculation Day: The Hardest Part for Parents is Letting Go

***2/10/2019 Please note: I am no longer updating the blog posts for Citadel parents. See the official school website for the most up to date information***Matriculation Day check inWe are approaching the annual rite of passage at The Citadel known as Matriculation Day, the day the first year cadets, or knobs as they are called, report for their Challenge Week, formerly called Hell Week.

To help families prepare for this day the alumni groups in several area host send off events. In Georgia there is a parent orientation meeting. I started a group for new parents only on Facebook called The Citadel: Parents of the Class of 2017 to help parents prepare their knob to report while also helping them learn to let go of the day-to-day aspects of their child’s experiences.

The hardest part of the experience for parents is letting go. The knobs have a tough time, but they are busy learning the system and going to classes. It is tough and they manage it well. The parents, on the other hand, tend to have a very tough time the first few months. They worry about their child, mainly because the system is so foreign to them and therefore, it is scary.

The Facebook group for new parents is there to assure parents that they, and their child, will get through this. Each year over 700 knobs report to the school. 2,000+ members of the Corps of Cadets are on campus each year. The parents of graduates in the Facebook group act as coaches for the new parents. We try to give them the tools they will need to support their cadet’s process instead of intervening.

The cadre march the Class of 2016 to their first lunch in the mess hall.

The cadre march the Class of 2016 to their first lunch in the mess hall.

Parents, you are sending your child to a military COLLEGE, not to war. I know the difference now since my son just returned from Afghanistan. My early worries seem silly now. Allowing your knob to take control of their experience and work out their problems is the best gift you can give them.

I do understand the anxiety though. I was in your shoes in 2007. At that time there were no Facebook groups. The Atlanta Citadel Club does have a send off event and the parent orientation was very helpful. I resourced with a local mom of a cadet and also the Citadel Family Association chair couple at the time. In 2007 knobs were not allowed to have cell phones first semester, so we didn’t get a call at the end of the first week. If we were lucky we received a quick email.

In 2011 I was asked to contribute to a blog called Off the Base , my son’s senior year. The blog is the project of Bobbie O’Brien of WUSF in Tampa, Florida. She thought my voice as the mom of an Army ROTC cadet soon to be officer would be helpful to her readers. I hesitated to write about The Citadel because I really couldn’t speak to the cadet experience. My son was the one who attended, not me. In the end I agreed. The entries trace my experience from a mom who couldn’t understand why in the world my son would want this type of experience, to a mom who knows it is not the experience I could have gone through, but The Citadel was exactly where my son needed to be.

Because of my blog contributions to Off the Base, and my own blog, some parents get the impression I never had doubts about the process. To these parents I suggest reading the first few entries from Off the Base. I assure you I was extremely anxious about the whole experience. The first entry, The Making of a Military Mom and the second, Mom Readies for Son’s Military College trace my early journey. The following entries, The Citadel: Year One a No Fly Zone for Hovering Parents and Learning Leadership and Ethics at The Citadel, describe in part the transformation I went through as I saw the changes in my son from a young high school student to a responsible adult.

The Cadre lead the Class of 2016 from the mess hall to their first meeting. The first week this process is repeated over and again.

The Cadre lead the Class of 2016 from the mess hall to their first meeting. The first week this process is repeated over and again.

The best gift a parent can give their knob is helping them prepare for Matriculation Day, then let go. Let your knob be the one to reach out to you. They have no control over their time so if you call and they don’t answer the phone, know that is completely normal. Send them encouraging cards and messages. When they do call, be supportive. Remind them of the strength they have within them to tackle their challenges. If they have a problem with a classmate don’t try to fix it for them, but remind them there is a chain of command and a protocol to go through to address concerns.

You can use the time to learn more about the school and the 4th Class system when your knob cannot call or email you. The Citadel external affairs office does a great job of posting photos and updates to the web site and also to their Facebook page for new parents to try to get a glimpse of their knob. Read through the Office of the Commandant page and all the links to learn about the school and the process your cadet is going through. This knowledge is not to intervene, but to see how they are trained.

As a parent it is tough to resist the urge to fix things for our children. Come April and Recognition Day, the knobs, and their parents, will see they have made it through to be full members of the Corps of Cadets and you will each feel a sense of accomplishment and pride of what you have come through.

The Class of 2016 lines up to enter the chapel the Sunday morning of Matriculation Day weekend, 2012.

The Class of 2016 lines up to enter the chapel the Sunday morning of Matriculation Day weekend, 2012.

Deployment Ups and Downs

I used the last of a roll of shipping tape on the last box to be sent during this deployment.

I used the last of a roll of shipping tape on the last box to be sent during this deployment.

We’ve reached a deployment milestone. This week I received the stop mail date. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, the stop mail date means military families have to stop sending mail on that date because the unit is preparing for their redeployment home. Receiving word about this date is confirmation that the light is getting brighter at the end of the deployment tunnel.

Several events this week put a damper on my enthusiasm.

The first was early this week when our doorbell rang unexpectedly. It was a sales person for a pest control company. I try not to panic when these unexpected knocks happen and my anxiety was relieved when I saw through the window that the person on the other side of the door was wearing a white golf shirt, not a uniform. He was a nice young man. I explained what the Blue Star Flag means that hangs on our front door. I also explained what the yellow ribbon around our front tree means. He apologized for not knowing and said he would remember that in the future. I felt better knowing I had educated one more person about the anxiety families of deployed soldiers can go through when the unexpected knock comes to your door.

The other events of the week include the news stories of soldiers killed in Afghanistan by an IED and a suicide bomber. When an events like these happen there is a communication black out period so the military can notify the next of kin of the soldiers killed in action. It is a period of anxiety, waiting and hoping you won’t get the knock on your door. Then you realize if it isn’t you there is some family about to learn their loved one is gone. As part of a huge extended military family part of you grieves for the loss of someone you don’t know, but with whom you feel an affinity. The reality is these stories aren’t highlighted in the news any more. they are available, but you have to look for updates. That means the general public is blissfully unaware of the continued tragedies of the involvement overseas.

As I wrote earlier this week, my son wrote to me on Mother’s Day. I know I won’t hear from him for a while. I try not to let myself ponder too much on the what ifs of the news from the past few days. Most of the time I am successful.

I have little rituals I do when I am anxious. One of them is to send packages. Since the stop mail date has passed I will have to find another outlet. The welcome home baskets for the single soldiers is one effort I will continue to work on through their homecoming. I had ordered some special pralines from a local restaurant for my son’s platoon. Since I’ve now missed the mailing deadline I will send them to the rear detachment office at Fort Stewart.

Last week the military blog site I contribute to, Off the Base, posted my entry about Mother’s Day. I was also interviewed by Bobbie O’Brien about helpful and not helpful things for military moms. I’d like to add one more item. Comparing your child going off to college with a deployment is not at all helpful for the parents of a deployed soldier. Unless your child is being targeted and shot at while they are at school. The same thing holds for spouses on extended business trips. It is not the same and not helpful to compare a business trip to a deployment to a war zone.

Writing that helps me vent, but I do hope it will help at least one reader refrain from drawing that comparison.

Melancholy on Mother’s Day

Chelle and Dorie visit with their soldier in the fall of 2012 during Family Day at Fort Stewart. photo by Stanley Leary

Chelle and Dorie visit with their soldier in the fall of 2012 during Family Day at Fort Stewart.
photo by Stanley Leary

Today is my first Mother’s Day as the mom of a deployed soldier. I have to admit that Mother’s day has never been a favorite holiday of mine. My own mother died when I was pregnant with my first child. When I was struggling one Mother’s Day a friend pointed out, “Mother’s Day is a tough day for mothers who have lost their mothers.”

So this day reminds me of who is not here as much as it reminds me of my own motherhood. I love my children and am grateful for the tokens of their love each year. But as hard as I try to stay with the here and now, I am reminded of who is not here with us. This year it is my first-born child.

I haven’t heard from him in days. On Facebook I see photos of flower arrangements sent to other moms from their deployed children, and read of messages sent and Skype calls made. My expectations of hearing from my son are very low.

This past week I was asked to contribute some tips for Mother’s Day to the military blog, Off the Base, a project of Bobbie O’Brien of WUSF. Bobbie also interviewed me this week for a Mother’s Day piece that aired on WUSF this past Friday. The interview went well until I was asked about what I do for Mother’s Day. For several years now I have not seen my oldest son on Mother’s Day. I do, however, have a few phone messages I have kept from previous Mother’s Day calls from my oldest son. I never do know when I’ll hear from him. I keep the messages just so I can hear his voice once in a while. As I told Bobbie about these messages I choked up a bit.

So today is another day of mixed emotions. My husband and my two children took me to enjoy a nice Mother’s Day brunch at my favorite restaurant in town, Adele’s. This afternoon we will listen to my daughter play with her middle school orchestra at an art festival in town. The evening will be used to prepare for the week ahead.

It’s early afternoon here and night-time in Afghanistan. No word from my deployed son.

My daughter told me I had to wear this cape to her orchestra performance today. It did lighten the mood a bit.

My daughter told me I had to wear this cape to her orchestra performance today. It did lighten the mood a bit.

FOOTNOTE: I wrote this entry before the concert at the arts festival in town. During the concert I was showing my Army ACU purse to two children sitting next to me. I then looked at my phone to check Facebook messages. There was a note from my deployed son! As I was talking about him, he was writing to me. It made my afternoon. He said Happy Mother’s Day then told me I wouldn’t hear from him for a while. The tears flowed once again.

I put on my dark sunglasses and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon.

Giving Thanks and Supporting Our Soldiers

Boxes packed and ready to go to our soldier and the battalion chaplain.

As I wrote last week, this time of year holds some wonderful memories, but also the grief of losing both parents to cancer at this time of year. To counter act the feelings of loss I’ve developed positive ways to deal with my grief. This year with a son deployed my coping mechanism has turned to efforts to support the troops.

The Military Ministry of Roswell Presbyterian Church (RPC) played a big role this year in the outreach efforts. Members of the committee donated Christmas stockings filled with goodies to send to the battalion chaplain to be distributed to soldiers. We joined the efforts of Military Families Ministry in sending out the stockings. Military Families Ministry was co-founded by a friend and fellow contributor the blog Off the Base, Tracie Ciambotti. If you don’t have the address for a deployed service member, you can contact the nonprofit to find out how boxes can be sent. Their web site offers several ways in which groups or individuals can support deployed service members.

Christmas Stockings for soldiers from the Military Ministry of Roswell Presbyterian Church.

In addition to the stockings the Prayers and Squares ministry made and prayed over 100 prayer squares. The 6″ x 6″ squares of fabric have 5 strings or ribbons attached to them. When people say a prayer for the recipient they tie a knot. As I mentioned in a previous post the squares were prayed over at the veterans day luncheon and also by the middle school youth group at RPC. Each square was put into a ziplock bag with a card explaining what the knots symbolize. Half the prayer squares went to the deployed soldiers and the other half went to Fort Stewart to be given to family members of the soldiers deployed. Letters of thanks from the middle school youth went into the box with the prayer squares as well as hot chocolate packets, tea bags and snacks bars.

My daughter helped me get the boxes to the post office before Thanksgiving. Most were addressed to the chaplain, but one went to our soldier. In his we put warm hats, scarves and gloves along with his requested brands of special items. We also included some special items.

Prayer Squares made by the Prayers and Squares ministry of Roswell Presbyterian Church.

For years our daughter would visit the Santa at the mall near our house. Now that she is 14 this tradition has changed a bit. Instead of dressing in her best Christmas dress she wore her “Fangirl” t-shirt, hoodie, and bracelets. I was also in the photo this year with my Hero On My Arm “Army Mom” messenger bag. A copy of the photo went in my letter to our soldier. Our daughter wrote a special letter to her brother and the reindeer Santa gave him went in the box too. I choked up a bit when we visited with Santa and I heard Chelle tell him, “Please keep my brother safe.” When Santa asked her what she wanted for herself she said, “That’s all I need.”

Chelle, Santa and Dorie go over their very short, but important, Wish List.

Opportunities to support military families are all around you. One of the nicest things you can do is to ask the family member how they need to be supported. For us, sending boxes to our soldier helps us feel like we have a big support network. We are collecting items this week to send 14 Christmas care packages to soldiers  with our soldier. After a quick Facebook post I heard from several people who would like to contribute. Letters, cards and pictures drawn by children are a terrific way to say thank you for your service. We hope to get the boxes in the mail by December 3. Please let me know if you would like to contribute to the mailing. We are looking for hot chocolate packets, instant coffee packets, baby wipes, beef jerky, dried fruit leather and other individually wrapped snacks.

While I am grateful for the many people who support us, I am still astounded at the people who have no idea we have thousands of soldiers deployed right now. I haven’t heard negative comments as much as ignorance of what our soldiers are doing. I am learning to use these comments to motivate me even more to be one more person getting the word out to support the troops.

Reaching Out to Military Families Helps

Family Day at Fort Stewart, Oct. 2012
photo by Stanley Leary

It’s been a busy month for me. Most of it related to things other than The Citadel or Army mom involvement.We are very close to the deployment date of my oldest son so staying busy is a good thing. I find I am choking up or tearing up at odd times throughout the week.

We did attend his going away party in early October and then visited Fort Stewart for the Casing of the Colors ceremony and family day. I wrote about that experience for the military blog site Off the Base.

Some fun with family at the pre-deployment party. Quite a contrast to the photo at the top of the entry.

There are so many thoughts going through my mind it is hard to decide what to write about now. So much of it is extremely personal. I am an extrovert so many times what is in my head pops out of my mouth with very little screening. In this situation, however, I am more guarded about what I share with a nameless faceless readership.

Fortunately I can channel my anxiety into projects that help not only my son and his battalion but other military families and military families in training at The Citadel.

For the senior Army ROTC cadets at The Citadel it is a time of anticipation. They received their branch notices at a meeting recently. Their parents are now researching the next steps, including what BOLC means. The training for young officers is called Basic Officer Leadership Course or BOLC and is pronounced bullock. Our son attended Armor BOLC at Ft. Benning. The courses for the various branches of service are taught at bases throughout the country. If you have a cadet at The Citadel you can resource with other military parents through the Facebook group, Military parents of The Citadel. Most likely someone there will know something about the BOLC your cadet will go to after graduation.

If you or someone you know is a cadet or graduate of The Citadel and is currently deployed, make sure The Citadel Heroes Project has their APO/FPO address. You can contact Susie Maghakian with the name and address. Her contact information is below. This group of volunteers sends care packages to deployed cadets and grads a few times a year. They rely on the families to send the addresses. They have an immediate need for personal care items, including items for female soldiers, for the boxes that will be packed November 10 and financial support to cover postage. Items received after November 10 will still be sent out to the soldiers. Make checks payable to: The Citadel Heroes Project

Please send your donations to:

Susie Maghakian, Krause Center for Leadership and Ethics, 171 Moultrie Street, The Citadel Station, Charleston, SC  29409

or if you are sending items via UPS or other carrier use the physical address on campus:

Susie Maghakian, Krause Center for Leadership and Ethics, 201 Richardson Ave, 171 Moultrie Street, Charleston, SC 29409


Phone: 843-953-5815

Care packages ready to be shipped to deployed cadets and graduates of The Citadel.

There are many nonprofit organizations that support the troops throughout the year. One organization I volunteer with is the Military Families Ministry. Co-founder, Tracie Ciambotti, is also a contributor to the blog Off the Base. She wrote a book called Battles of The Heart for new Army families.
This past August I enrolled in the Level II Comedy Writing Class taught by Jeff Justice. It was just one more way for me to stay busy and positive as we face the first deployment of our oldest son. In the routine I joked about Army Moms and their cell phones. During a deployment they keep them on their person at all times. Just today I was reflecting on how our life will be the next nine months. I imagine there will be times when I tick someone off on line at the grocery store or at an event when I answer my phone at an inappropriate time. I will not apologize if this happens.
The Family Readiness Group leadership at Ft. Stewart will send the contact information soon for anyone who would like to support our battalion while they are deployed. We already know they will need hand warmers, packets of hot chocolate and instant coffee, protein foods, and baby wipes. I’ll post the address to send donations when they send it to us.
Remember, if you are the parents of a deployed soldier it is completely normal and expected to be more emotional while they are deployed. If you do not have a family member in the military, but know someone who does, remember to check in with them and ask how they would like to be supported during this time.


An Army Family Prepares for Deployment

My oldest son graduated from The Citadel in May of 2011. He entered Armor Basic Officer Leader Course (BOLC) training shortly after graduation.  The past year has felt a little like limbo. He is mostly in training and is enjoying his time as a young single officer. He has a nice condo near his base, plenty of friends to get together with on whatever free time he has. All that will change in a few months if his orders to deploy in the fall are carried out. I’ve been told by friends in the military that deployment orders can change at the last-minute so I shouldn’t  focus on the deployment date, but I should remain prepared.

Nelson received the Ironman Award from Georgia Governor Nathan Deal at the Armor BOLC graduation.

While my son has been in training to lead a platoon, I’ve been studying about being an Army parent. Websites like goarmyparents.com and the Facebook group, Army Moms, have been very helpful with my preparation. I recently ordered two books. The first is by a fellow contributor to the Off the Base blog, and founder of the nonprofit, Military Families Ministry, Tracie Ciambotti. Battles of the Heart. Tracie’s book is an honest look at what being the mother of a soldier is like.

The second book I recently ordered is A Handbook for Family & Friends of Service Members: Before, During and After Deployment published by  THe Defense Centers of Excellence and Vulcan Productions. The book addresses the various stages of preparation family and friends of a member of the service may go through when a loved one is in the service. The book has a number of resources for families listed including the Real Warriors website. I found their information for families section very helpful.

Our new ACU bags from Hero On My Arm.

Reading and research are very good tools to help with any change. For me I also need to develop my own rituals to help with the transition. This year for Mother’s Day I asked for a bag made from an ACU (Army Combat Uniform). I researched the various web sites and decided Hero On My Arm offered the largest number of choices, and had an easy to navigate website. My bag is a custom-made Elizabeth bag. I ordered a Premade Bag for our daughter. The pre-made bags are up to 50% off what a customized bag costs.

The owner and CEO of Hero On My Arm, Seneca Hart, was very helpful when I spoke to her by phone about how I’d like the bag to be customized. She suggested a section be added for my iPad.  We are very pleased with the customer service and the workmanship. The bags arrived about 8 weeks after I placed the order.

I added two name tags and a yellow ribbon patch for each bag at an additional charge. You can select the color and type style of patch you would like. Since I ordered at Mother’s Day they offered a free key chain with the order.

My customized keychain.

The “Elizabeth” messenger bag was customized with a section for my iPad.

Our preparation process began when our son was in high school and decided the military was the career for him. It is a process the entire family moves through. Reading books and web sites are helpful, but I find the best resources are finding friends who have been through it and are willing to share their tips. While he hasn’t deployed yet I know it will be an emotional roller coaster. One military wife put her advice to others into a blog post. One I think anyone in touch with the family of a deployed  soldier should read, Things I Wish I Had The Courage To Say During Deployment.

We are all a bit nervous, but push on with our day-to-day lives. Creating small rituals to help us get ready. I didn’t pay much attention to how my daughter, 12 years old at the time, was processing the fact that her big brother was graduating and being commissioned. Then one day for a language arts class she had an assignment to pick an inspirational person then find a song that reminds you of that person. She wrote about her brother. When she couldn’t find a song to match how she felt about him she composed and wrote a song for NaNa, a name she gave him when she was a toddler. I get a bit teary when I hear it, Brother’s Love.

The Citadel: Parents Weekend and Ring Weekend tips

Bravo Company, 2011 Seniors show off their rings. photo by Stanley Leary

In one week my oldest son will graduate from Armor Basic Officer Leader Course (BLOC) at Fort Benning, GA.  In two weeks families from around the country will arrive in Charleston, SC for Parents’ Weekend at The Citadel.  This is the first time in four years we will not be in Charleston and it feels really strange.

I was going through photos from last year and thought of a few things I learned about parents Weekend that I should pass along.

For the families of seniors this weekend is all about the Ring. The afternoon presentation is in McAlister Field house.  The Cadet Activities office does a great job of posting information in advance. You’ll see people in all types of dress.  The senior cadets will be in their most formal uniform.  We decided to wear nice clothes for the presentation.

One little tip for the mothers of cadets. . .  if you would like the “Mother’s Ring” or a pendant consider buying it for yourself. Some cadets will order them on their own, but not many do. Parents of underclass cadets – the ring is ordered in their junior year.  The payment is due early their senior year.  The price varies with the gold prices and it can be close to $1,000.

After the seniors go into the field house the rest of the Corps of Cadets and their families can participate in the academic open house and the address by the president, or just leave campus.  Of course you always need to check with your cadet.  Depending on their rank and company they may have certain duties to perform.

The RIng Ceremony. A photo is taken when you go through the ring then half way down the carpet. I didn’t look the right way. You will hear a voice through the flower arrangement telling you to look to your right. photo by Stanley Leary

Friday night is the night the senior cadets walk through the replica of the Ring with their mother, date and /or family member. The cadet activities office posts the schedule of when each company is assigned to go through the ring. You need to be at the field house 15 minutes prior to the posted time. If you have an early time you can plan on dinner after you go through the ring. Our time was after 8:00 so a group of Bravo families went to dinner prior to going through the ring. Our cadets didn’t plan ahead. One of the moms’s called around Wednesday night to find a place that would take our group of 30 a the last-minute. Some companies have a tradition of having dinner together at a hotel. The school arranges to have a photographer at the presentation and also at he Hop afterwards. Do not be upset if your senior wants to spend most of their time with their buddies.  They have waited three years to earn the right to wear that band of gold.

Bravo Company flag. Parents’ Weekend 2010

Saturday morning is a crazy busy time.  Schedules vary but in general you can go to the barracks and see your cadet and their room. . Parents’ Weekend is the first time of the school year when they have Open Barracks, a time when family, friends and alumni can enter the barracks and visit rooms. The knobs prepare for this day weeks in advance.  They put a lot of time into painting a banner to be displayed from the 4th division (4th floor) of the barracks. If you wondered where their sheets went to, take a close look at the banner. Seriously, the banner and the various bulletin boards are a big deal.  Each floor has a different bulletin board.  The cadets take great pride in their designs each year.  Make sure to notice them.

You can hear the Regimental Band concert of Summerall Field, watch the Kelly Cup competition and see the Rifle Legion Performance Saturday morning too.  At 10:00 parents of knobs will want to be in the battalion to watch the promotion ceremony for the knobs.  They are promoted from cadet recruits to cadet privates. The Citadel Heroes volunteers will man a table where you can sign cards for deployed cadets and recent graduates.

After the promotion ceremony the cadets get ready for the parade. First year parents will soon learn to stake out their spot in the stands early or bring their own chairs.

There is very little time between the parade and when the cadets have to get ready to march to the football stadium. You can pack your own lunch, eat in Coward Mess Hall or purchase a box lunch through cadet activities. We ate in the mess hall the first year then brought our own lunch after the first year.  I’ve learned that if you ask 5 different people their opinion of what to do for lunch that day you will get 5 different answers.  Do what your cadet would like to do.

It is fun to watch the cadets march to the stadium. Once you get to your seats you can watch the cadets line the field to cheer on the team. The cadets all sit together. We found sitting across the field from the cadet section was our favorite spot.  You are out of the sun. The Summerall Guards perform at half-time.

(NOTE the following paragraph about group tickets is not valid for 2012 tickets. There are no group rates for parent’s Weekend and Homecoming in 2012)

A good friend of mine purchased a block of tickets at a discount then made them available to friends.  The normal $30 ticket at the group rate was only $6 each.  My son’s senior year we had over 200 people in our section.  I had to pay for the tickets but everyone sent me their checks and a self-addressed stamped envelope. To do this you need to plan in advance. I purchased the tickets Matriculation Weekend at the ticket office and had the pick of the best seating. Posting a notice to the parent Facebook groups is a quick way to get the word out about ticket availability.

Once the game is over the cadets are free to join their family and friends. We were fortunate to have a group of friends to tailgate with each fall. Most knobs want to get good food and sleep before returning to the barracks around 11:30 pm. There is a silent procession of cars that drive around the parade field the hour before their curfew. It reminded me of the final scene from the movie “Field of Dreams,” when all you can see are a stream of headlights.

Sunday morning after chapel or ethics seminar the knobs can go off campus until about 6:00 or 7:00.

Just remember the weekend will fly by. You’ll do a lot of walking so wear comfortable shoes. Parking is always tight these big weekends so getting to campus early Saturday is a good idea.

The 2011 Summerall Guards perform at half time of the game on parents’ Weekend.

Miscellaneous tips and info:

Dress: Be sure to check the weather reports. The past 4 years the weather was mostly very warm and sunny. Summer weight clothes are best. You’ll see a variety of outfits, mostly casual. Comfortable shoes are best since you do a good bit of walking. It did rain one year.  Umbrellas are not allowed in the stadium. A rain poncho is best.

Hotels: Most hotels will offer a special rate for Citadel families.  Call the hotel directly and ask if they offer a Citadel family rate.  The hotels closest to the school book very quickly. Marriott, Best Western, LaQuinta and SpringHill Suites, Marriott Courtyard are all very close.  The Hawthorn Suites Hotel is near The Citadel Mall and about 7 miles away they offer a very low rate for a suite room. Please feel free to leave your hotel recommendations in the comment section.


Charleston is known for it’s great restaurants.  Reservations are suggested for most fine dining restaurants. You can find some wonderful places all around the area.  The places farther from downtown are easier to get into and the prices can be lower too. Feel free to leave a comment below with your favorite restaurant tips.

Congratulations to Bobbie O’Brien

Last week I had the opportunity to sit in on the meeting of the Rosalyn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellows .  Bobbie O’Brien of  WUSF, and the administrator of the blog site, Off the Base, presented a summary of her work over the past year.  She was also selected as the only Fellow to present to President Carter and the Board of Councilors. Today Bobbie posted a summary of her presentation. You can see and hear about my contributions at the 6:13 mark.

Bobbie told me she added a few photos from my entries to Off the Base.  It was a strange feeling to be in a room of distinguished guests and then see a photo of me with my children on a screen as big as the side of a house! I am very grateful to Bobbie for the opportunity to contribute to her blog.

Congratulations to Bobbie and all the Fellows.


At the end of Recognition Day. 4th Class Cadet Nelson Lalli with his mom, Dorie and sister, ChelleRing Ceremony, 2010. 1st Class Cadet Nelson Lalli escorts his mother, Dorie and his date, Leslie Manzano through the Junior Sword Arch.

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