A cadet’s legacy
They say once you’re a cadet, you’re always a cadet.
The lessons and skills the program teaches young people never truly go away. They might go dormant, waiting for the time when they’re needed, but they never really leave you.
“It’s like riding a bike,” Gladys Smith told The Compass last week. “It’s like muscle memory you never forget. Either you’re a cadet or you’re not.”
Smith plays a couple of roles with the Whitbourne 2584 Army Cadet Corp. She’s a citizen instructor with the group and works with cadets on things like band and parade drills.
As of the corps 2016 annual ceremonial review, she is a member of the Whitbourne cadet legacy squad. They are a group of former cadets who have come back to the movement, donned their uniforms and started giving back.
What started out as a re- union for former cadets in advance of the group’s 60th anniversary last year became something more when organizers and participants had enough to form a platoon.
“They even got in the office and started fighting over who got which boots,” said commanding officer Capt. Patti Kennedy. “You never forget being a cadet. It was emotional. It was like they never left.
“Everything just fell back into step.”
From there, they got back in the swing of parading and even ripped out a couple of tunes with the band.
“It was amazing,” said Smith of the legacy group’s participation at the ACR. “It gives us a lot of pride.”
The legacy squad wasn’t just about getting former cadets back in the gym and performing. It also allowed their younger counterparts the opportunity to see how things have changed over time.
Different band practices and nuances were shared between generations.
The teaching continued into the following months.
For Kennedy, it was interesting to see the interaction between the two groups and it had a profound effect on the entire group.
“I know some of them were honoured to take part again but we were the ones who were honoured,” said Kennedy. “They’d show them how it used to be.”
With the threat of a school closure hanging over the cadet corps last June, the return of the legacies was notable for the group and community as a whole.
“It was like a breath of fresh air. It certainly shifted focus from what was going on with the school,” said Kennedy. “We needed something to take our minds off what was going on.”
Now, they get one more year as the plan is to have the group at the 2017 ACR and other events.
The Whitbourne 2584 Army Cadet Corp legacy squad came together last year for the 60th anniversary of the group and remains working now.