Tomorrow, April Fool’s Day, marks exactly ten days until we get our rings. It’s so strange to think that finally, we’re here. I remember with no loss of detail being a freshman, watching candidly as our Staff Sergeants and Drill Sergeant worked themselves into a near frenzy the entire week before, present in class but eyes drifting longingly to their hands, smacking palms lightly on the desktops as if in anticipation of the status symbol soon to be there.
Explaining the hype around the Norwich Junior Ring is, unavoidably, something that every cadet will have to explain to an “outsider”. And I don’t say outsider unlovingly; this may be a parent, sibling, significant other, or even a dear friend from home. But the problem of explaining why the mention of the ring ignites a spark in the eye of every cadet is almost an unsolvable one, because the very excitement stems from the culmination of the Norwich experience!
I thought as a freshman that I’d feel much older by the time I got here, to be honest. Everything, even after recognition, was still so new and mysterious about the Corps and how it worked then. That’s the path everyone takes; you watch you cadre, you grow into sophomore year under their eye, sharing rank but gaining experience with your peers, and then Junior year comes. I will say, that insofar as my experience at Norwich goes, Junior year has certainly been the most challenging- and rewarding- of my ‘college career’. While it’s not a lie that more than once, I wished again for the easygoing life that encompasses Sophomore year, this semester-and-a-half of school has taught me more about myself and my leadership style that at any other point in my life. I have been tested, found my limitations, and did things that I never thought possible.
And that’s only the smallest taste of what it is to be a Junior. For many, there’s the double-edged sword of being cadre. While the sleep lost during those months can never be regained, they earn the respect of fresh new cadets; a trust that’s worth well its weight in gold. For others, long hours of paperwork and many headaches will yield a quieter, more personal type of growth. But it’s the growth that matters. A growth that has been built on three years running of trial and error, mistakes, victories, and an unconquerable spirit.
And at the end, there’s the ring. The immortal Norwich ring. It’s not just metal and stone; it’s a living reminder of how the last three years have forever changed us for the better; how we, like that metal, have been shaped and molded and refined to become something incredible.
I can’t wait.
Rikki Feightner, Band Co. '15