“The clock begins now,” said Karen McGrath, vice president for enrollment management and communications, indicating it was time to say goodbye.
There was a scraping of chairs, then sobbing everywhere. People’s shoulders shook and noses ran for a poignant moment between childhood and adulthood; between a civilian and military-style life. Cameras flashed, and some siblings left the building to gather themselves. Smith, Haynes and Baker hugged amid the sea of emotion.
Then, rooks were separated and sent marching outside where clouds had parted, letting in sunshine. A few Norwich staff members sneaked outside to bear witness, giddy with anticipation.
Company by company, the rooks emerged, a river of white, khaki and maroon streaming toward the Upper Parade Ground to the sound of drumbeats. A Corps member watched from his post on a grassy hillside.
“And so it begins,” he said.