And it's not business related! What I'm going to talk about may in part, apply to all of the academies, but I am only going to talk about the Coast Guard Academy. I was reminded about something tonight, which I don't believe I've touched on before, but I think it is very important. It's not business related either. The Academy will try you in ways you did not believe possible. You will quickly realize your limitations. You will do things that disappoint you. You will fall short in so many ways. You will fail many times. There is something there for you though, someone waiting in the shadows to carry you with them, someone ready to support you and talk to you behind closed doors after you've taken all you think you can take. I'm talking about a shipmate; I'm talking about your classmates. My swab summer I was far from perfect. I did a good deal of IT, some of my actions caused others to receive IT. I came from a small pond, and I was a big fish. It was not easy for me to be a poor performer. I began to doubt I could make it. I began to think I wasn't worthy. There are many people who will help you, but for some, the name of the person who got you through it all is known, and you will never forget that person, ever. For me, that person was Brendan. During swab summer the platoons would switch roommates every so often. My last, and longest roommate of the summer, was Brendan. Brendan got a shout out on my senior page of Tides Rips. He got me through a lot. He knows it, and I know it, but it's something he would never hang over my head. It's our bond, and no one can take it away from us. Years down the road, it's something we will still have. We were roommates once, for a relatively short time, but it was an important time for us, as swabs. Today, while my ship is in a port for an extended time doing training, I went to a hockey game with a female classmate, who was the same major as me, and a friend. While we were at the game she ran into a few classmates. (It's good to remember, because we're all in the Coast Guard, many port calls you will run into shipmates/classmates, this one is no exception). We moved to their section, and after a GREAT fight filled win, we headed over to a sports bar. My other classmates followed. Brendan was in the group. Another good friend who I was on a ship with my Firstie summer was also there. My class graduated with 206 cadets, so everyone knows everyone. I hadn't seen most of them in almost two years, but we picked up where we left off. In the end, Brendan called me "roommate" as I was leaving the bar. hand shakes and hugs (the guy kind) went around the group. These guys weren't all my friends, and none of them were my best friend, he's in Kodiak, AK. These guys were in special training to head over to Bahrain to join PATFORSWA and patrol the Persian Gulf. These are good guys. Something non-work related that you will get....some of the best friends you could ever hope for, that you can always rely on, people you can respect, classmates who are shipmates that you will never forget. They saw you at your worst, and they gave you their best. You may owe them your commission, but they'd never ask for it, because they know they did for you what you would do for them any day of the week. No one can ever take that away, and it will be hard for anyone to understand what it means to you.