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Cadets march into leadership

Published: Monday, April 30, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 22:07

cadets

Courtesy of Jennifer Whitney

The Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band marches in the Fiesta Battle of Flowers Parade on Friday in San Antonio.

brazos

Roger Zhang — THE BATTALION

‘Old Al’ greets cadets as they step off the Quadrangle Saturday morning during the March to the Brazos.

Despite the Texas heat, the Corps of Cadets spent the weekend outdoors, marching in celebration of another year coming to a close. Select units traveled to San Antonio to march in the Battle of Flowers parade, but returned in time to take part in the 18-mile March to the Brazos.

The Battle of Flowers parade is a significant part of San Antonio’s Fiesta season, and an annual destination for the Corps. The Aggie Band, the Ross Volunteers, the Fish Drill Team and Parsons Mounted Cavalry each made the trip. The Corps’

participation is a reflection of the parade’s military tribute to the nation’s armed forces and veterans.  

Members of the Ross Volunteers, who also marched during Mardi Gras, said marching in Texas was nicer because of the Aggie support present.

“It was different from Mardi Gras because there were a lot of Aggie fans,” said Zach Leger, junior history major and Ross Volunteer. “People everywhere were excited when they saw us, it was like Mardi Gras, without all the obnoxious LSU fans.”

Caleb Gottlich, junior nutritional sciences major and Ross Volunteer, said it was great seeing the positive response the Corps received from the San Antonio community.

“There wasn’t an empty spot along the whole parade route and everyone was really enthusiastic about it,” Gottlich said. “I talked to a woman who has worked for the parade for a while and she loved having us there. The whole way down the route people kept saying ‘thank you’ to us and ‘Gig’em,’ so I’d say they were pretty happy we were there.”

These units returned Friday night to participate in the long-anticipated March to the Brazos on Saturday. The march acts as both a transitory event and fundraiser for the March of Dimes, a charity for premature babies and babies born with defects.

Marquis Alexander, junior international studies major and Sergeant Major of the Corps, said the Corps has helped raised $2.1 million since 1977.

“It’s actually the nation’s largest student-led fundraiser for the March of Dimes,” Alexander said. “This year we raised $86,000.”

The March to the Brazos is also an unofficial transfer of leadership from the seniors — who are now “dead,” or finished with their four-year undergraduate experience — to the juniors, while the underclassmen move up a class level. The march consists of an 18-mile, round-trip hike.

“The reason it’s unofficial is it just lets us all know what our positions will be for the next year,” Alexander said. “You go as one class level and come back another, so it’s very anticipated.”

The march is perhaps most anticipated by the freshman class that has had to endure a year at the lowest level, negotiating challenge after challenge. Alexander said for the freshmen, the march marks the end as fish.

“This is literally their last hurdle of the year; this is their last obstacle,” Alexander said. “All they have to do now is go to class and study until [Final Review on May 5], and on May 5 they know they’re going to be sophomores. They know that they’ve made it.”

But the march is significant for every cadet because each raise in class level accompanies new responsibilities, new privileges and more potential to impact the Corps.

“The seniors leave the responsibility of the entire outfit upon the new senior class,” said Aaron Cranford, junior recreation, parks and tourism sciences major and member of Company C-2. “It’s an opportunity to make the outfit better with the plans you have been making the entire time you have been in the Corps until this point.”

Alexander’s transition was significant since he is going to be the Corps Commander next year. Alexander said he had been looking forward to receiving the four diamonds the Corps Commander wears.

“I’ve been waiting for a while for them. It was a really good feeling,” Alexander said. “Then I got the first taste of ‘power’ by coordinating activities with my major unit commanders for next year. It was really cool.”

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