The greatest thing about the Coast Guard Academy is not the beautiful river view, or the extremely devoted teachers, it is the family you get when you join. On R-Day you have 30 brothers and sisters in your company and a thousand cadets in the corps that have your back. With each cadet, teacher, officer, and sponsor parent, you gain their entire family as well, and are accepted as one of their own.
As a cadet that lives relatively close to the Academy, I have, on many occasions, told my parents that not only was I coming home, but my entire entourage would be joining me as well. No grunts or anger from my mother, just how many blankets and packages of Oreos was she going to need to buy. My home is no longer my home, but a home-away-from-home for all of my friends that live on the West Coast. My two closest friends no longer ask me when I am going home, but call my parents asking if they can crash for the weekend, even if I am not going to be there.
Thanksgiving is one of the better examples of cadet adoption. This year my wonderful parents are managing to fit in seven cadets from both the Coast Guard and the Air Force Academy into their home. Thanksgiving is one of the three holidays I get to see my entire extended family, which can be anywhere from 15 to 30 people at a table. Our family tradition starts with a turkey trot, which I am so excited to share with my friends. My cousin is a Division I runner at U- Albany and one of my Coasties is one of the fastest on our cross country team. My family has a small pool on who will take first. My brother and his Air Force friends will blast past the rest of us, saying something about the air being so much easier to breathe. All that matters is when the last of us cross the finish line, there will be a group of my friends and family in matching Flash t-shirts cheering as hard as they can. Dinner will be similar, with every member cooking something different, from the turkey, (and the backup turkey my Dad got before we left), to my aunt’s corn and saltine chowder, the cadets cleaning all the dishes and chasing the smaller kids around the yard. When we all fight over chairs and couches in my aunt’s living room, there is no difference between my friends and my biological family, they are all just my family.
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