2020 graduate laments missing his class’s celebratory coda

EDITORS NOTE: This story, adapted from a post on Facebook, has been edited for length and presentation

I recently departed Norwich on a uniquely somber occasion. I left May 2, which was supposed to be my class’s grand finale. A graduation and commencement that had been hyped heatedly and toward which we’d worked tirelessly since our 2016 arrival had been canceled because of an unprecedented global crisis. Little can be said to make up for it, but I hope with what I have written here, my fellow classmates and cadets can carry on with the same spirit and energy that earned us that day.

Daniel Freitag ’20

As I finished checking out and loaded my remaining belongings for the long ride home, I walked across an empty Upper Parade Ground, where many festivities and celebrations should have been held. As I admired the serenity of it all, a deep sadness overcame me and a longing for a different outcome consumed my thoughts. As I reminisced about good times and thought about what had been missed out on, my Mom came to comfort me and insisted that I take as many photos as I could.

I had a small, profound revelation.

My time around the empty campus had told me something profound — that having photos of this beautiful, yet deserted campus would do little to relieve my sorrow. I realized this campus will always be the same for its classes. Stretching from its storied past, present and evolving future, its presence is and will always be overshadowed by those that have walked and will walk its grounds. Its greeneries, dorms, halls and statues are not what make Norwich a place to be proud of. It’s the people it builds and experiences it fosters that make this place truly special.

Any photos I did take before leaving revealed only a husk of this special place. Without cadets marching in formation, students chatting on their way to class or a bugler playing a call, any scene at Norwich just isn’t complete.

Making the transition

As for my fellow seniors, I know how you feel:

freitag 3 min
Class of 2020 graduate Daniel Freitag’s Corps of Cadets uniform cap sits atop his stripped barracks bunk. (Photo courtesy Daniel Freitag.)
  • We feel we have lost the best weeks of our college careers.
  • We feel robbed of a proper farewell.
  • We feel like we have been unceremoniously thrust into our postcollege lives.
  • We want to retreat into the comfort of our college friends, classes, clubs, companies and campus families.

When dealing with this difficult transition into our new lives, we must understand that the discomforts and hardships we experienced at Norwich are what have thoroughly prepared us for the uncomfortable and uncertain world that lies ahead.

You are not alone in this strange phase, and the time to properly celebrate with the time-honored tradition of a Norwich University commencement ceremony will come.

We have taken many arduous steps, literally and metaphorically, to get to where we are now. Remember this when taking your new steps forward.

“Your Experiences at Norwich University have prepared you to play a unique role in America.”

Know we have all that we need to succeed. Sons and daughters of The Wick, it is time to step up and take our places in the annals of history. America, especially now, needs us more than ever.

Also, don’t forget, you’re an alum now, so act like it.

I look forward to seeing many of you in September. Until then, Norwich Forever!

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