The United States Military Academy at West Point is the premier military academy for individuals who seek to serve their country. From the moment they arrive, cadets are thrust into the strict, intense regiment that West Point offers. And over the course of four grueling years, they will be transformed from civilian kids into highly trained soldiers.
Check out what the first day is like for cadets enrolling at West Point:
Reception Day, or “R-Day,” begins with a warm welcome for cadets and their families. As they make their way off the bus, 1,200 individuals take their first steps towards a new life of strict discipline, intense training, and selfless serving.
After a brief introductory presentation, the cadets have just 90 seconds to say their goodbyes to family and friends before their journey officially begins.
The transition is fast and fierce. The cadets are hurried behind closed doors where they lineup to receive their welcome haircuts and uniforms. With no time to admire their newly shorn scalps, the former high school students turned trainees are tasked with their first real test.
The objective is simple: recite a single sentence to a senior cadet. Because of stress, nerves, or a combination of both, it may take some a dozen or more times to get it right.
Afterward, the cadets, dressed to the nines in their new uniforms, are expected to march in unison across the hallowed grounds for their induction ceremony.
“The new cadets in formation in front of you represent all that’s great about America,” says the announcer as they line up. “Every one of you has a positive contribution to make to your classmates, to West Point, and to our army.”
Established in 1802, West Point is the oldest of the five American service academies. First envisioned by president Thomas Jefferson, the campus is not only one of the most prestigious schools in the nation, but also a historical landmark.
West Point has produced well-known figures including not just past U.S. presidents, but other world leaders, as well as members of Congress, numerous generals, and 76 Medal of Honor recipients. High school students who hope to attend West Point must receive a nomination from a political leader.