When we all first came together at what is called ‘The House’, it was a new set of faces. I could only recognize one other, as we had been in contact for many months before. We all arrived one after the other and were led to the back of the establishment where we were told to ‘hang out and get acquainted’. We all stood in some sort of uneven circle, looking around us and at our feet, nobody speaking. There would be the occasional eye-to-eye contacts, and heads bowing. As more arrived, the circle became messier. Some of us shook hands and said no more than our names. The entire situation was, not necessarily uncomfortable or awkward, but tense. We were all clearly nervous about the approaching examination. As the commanders made their rounds, conversations began to come about, as the ice was broken slightly by the senior officers. We all began to get acquainted casually as we waited for further instructions. As we began to open up, a large portion of the excitement disappeared, as a large part of the nervousness was for what sorts of guys the others were. Jokes were being exchanged and the scene was becoming a very normal get-together.
The final 200 meters of the physical examination was where it became clear that we were not simply friends, but in many respects family. As we ran on the very final bits of energy left in us, we still found it from deep down to yell and cheer each other on. One by one we’d pass through the finish and collapse beside the senior officers, who were also cheering us as we burned every bit of strength we had left. In just an hour, we had gone from being absolutely silent to being partners. A team.
Military, being what it is, forges men. It builds character and incomparable friendships. Being around the other cadets, both new and old, was first very tense. We were all nervous, and there was a considerable amount of ice to be broken before any of us could comfortably open up. Now, almost a week later, we eat breakfast, lunch and dinner together. Talk about life, family, girls, school and everything else we can think of. Our friendships have turned into something that normally would take months to forge. In the words of Lieutenant Colonel Lugar, ‘we are a family, and a team.’ Almost a week later, the military house is now my favorite spot to socialize in. We all come together to keep each other motivated and to support one another. The point to this is time. Everything takes time to develop and mature. The military house went from a 5am wake up ‘burden’ to the place we are all most excited to get to during the day.