By Naval Cadet Mladen Djekic and Officer Cadet William Pugh
In the wake of the recent 90th anniversary of the commencement of construction on the Memorial Arch, it is fitting that more than 200 newly-arrived officer cadets pass through the majestic landmark at the Royal Military College of Canada, in Kingston Ontario. For some, their first true sight of the College was to pass through this hallowed arch for the first time.
Their arrival to the College is marked by the Arch Parade, an honoured tradition of the College which began in the 1980s. The Arch itself, erected in 1924, honours the lives of those ex-officer cadets who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in service of Canada or those who have been lost to sad circumstance. As part of the Arch Parade tradition, first-year officer cadets who have recently joined the Canadian Armed Forces, second- year cadets from the Collège militaire royal de St-Jean (CMRSJ), and new cadets under the University Training Plan for Non-Commissioned Members (UTPNCM), march through the gates of the Arch on their first formal day of entry to the College system. They will march through those gates only once more when they graduate as newly-commissioned officers from RMC.
After marching through the Arch, under the command of Cadet Wing Commander Nielson, they were formally welcomed to the college by saluting the Commandant, Brigadier-General Al Meinzinger, and marching to the parade square to hear an address by the Director of Cadets, Lieutenant-Colonel Patrick Lemyre, who offered words of advice and encouragement to the assembled cadets.
Having been formally welcomed to the College, the first-year cadets were immediately taken under the command of their First Year Orientation Program (FYOP) staff. FYOP is an intensive, rigorous month-long period wherein the first-year officer cadets are trained in the ways of life expected of a member of the Canadian Armed Forces in general, and of an officer cadet. Successful completion of the FYOP program is marked by the Obstacle Course, a formal competition between FYOP flights for points towards the award of the RMC Commandant's Cup, as well as the Badging Parade, where successful officer cadets will receive their RMC cap badges signifying their formal entry into the Cadet Wing as full Officer Cadets.