Military Ball Fills Marie Antionette Ballroom with Laughter, Celebration and Awards
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White walls lined with gold accents, a hardwood floor surrounded by floral carpet, three chandeliers dangling from the ceiling, all bathed in dim lighting; this is what one first sees as they enter the Marie Antoinette Ballroom at the Davenport Hotel for the annual EWU Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) Military Ball, which has occurred since the inception of the ROTC program in 1952.
EWU senior Cadet Alexandra Landoe, this year’s organizer, said the reasoning behind the ball comes down to three points.
“We want to bring the families and friends of our cadets together and further develop our military customs and courtesies, as well as build that camaraderie,” Landoe said.
In total, over 100 people attended the event, filling up the ballroom. Upon first entering the ball, situated to the right was a single table left alone. Called the “Missing Man” Table, it is a tribute and honor to those fallen, missing or are prisoners of war.
There is an upside down glass, which represents that the missing man or woman cannot partake in the dinner; a lemon, which represents the bitter fate and a rose, which represents the blood that may have been shed. There is also salt, which represents the tears of loved ones, a candle, which represents hope and a table which donned in white cloth to represent the purity of the soldiers’ intentions.
The ball began with the posting of colors, a long standing military tradition. What followed next was another military tradition, this one with a prank-esque twist to it.
Known as the “Grog,” the youngest cadet at each table was called to the front of the ballroom to partake in the military tradition of drinking a random mixture. One-by-one, the punch bowl was filled with various random items to create a mysterious concoction. Lemon-lime soda, grape juice, pure lemon juice, salt and brown sugar were some of the ingredients used to make the mixture. One cadet even went back for seconds.
Afterwards a series of toasts were given, all with a nod to the military, United States and EWU. Major Mike Eliason, EWU ROTC professor of Military Science, gave a speech succeeding the toasts. Dinner was served next, catered by the hotel.
Guests were treated to an array of choices: tossed salad with either tuscany herb vinaigrette, blackberry yogurt vinaigrette or ranch dressing; freshly baked rolls with balls of butter; a spring vegetable mix of squash, cucumbers and tomatoes; herb roasted fingerling potatoes; grilled rosemary chicken breast with pasta-rice pilaf; and braised beef short ribs.
Following the dinner was guest speaker Vickie R. Shields, PhD and EWU dean of the College of Social Sciences.
Shields gave a speech on Leadership and Living Well, in which she laid out four main points. These points included showing up, setting that moral compass, mindfulness and avoiding the trap of perfectionism. Shields’ presentation concluded the list of speakers.
The retiring of colors officially ended the formal session of the dinner, creating way for the entertainment portion of the night. The entertainment, which consisted of a number of videos mocking cadets and a class skit, was met with an overwhelming approval as the laughter of the crowd continuously thundered throughout the ballroom during the videos.
For the young men and women in the ROTC program, a social life can become hard to maintain. This is why the ball is valued among those who attend, as it gives a them chance to mingle with friends and company.
“Tonight, it’s traditional and also I wanted to hang out with my fellow cadets,” said EWU sophomore Cadet Gabriel Silva. “I thought it was going to be really fun and it turned out to be a really great time, so I’m really glad I came.”
In all, Cadet Landoe said she deemed the night a successful one. Looking ahead to next year, it will be someone else’s responsibility to put together the event. But just as they have done in the past, the Military Ball will continue.