CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The Citadel is honoring this year’s graduating class with a long-standing tradition.

“Today’s the Long Gray Line Parade,” South Carolina Corps of Cadets public affairs officer John Acker said. “It’s a symbolic gesture where the senior leadership from this year, the class of 2022, relinquishes command to the incoming command class, which is the class of 2023.”

Colonel Tom Gordon says the Long Gray Line is symbolic of the professional network the class of 2022 will have after graduation.

“When you graduate from The Citadel,” Gordon said, “in addition to a world class education, and a deep well of resiliency and resolve, these cadets will now have access to one of the most remarkable professional networks in the world. It’s how they’re going to solve problems for the rest of their lives.”

The parade also marks the transition of command from the class of 2022 to next year’s class.

“We take this experience and share it on with others,” 2022 graduate Tyler Mitchell said. “The ones that come after us. That’s really the biggest thing, sharing this moment with the ones that come after us and giving them some encouragement.”

Acker, who’s graduating in 2023, says he’s thankful for the lessons this year’s class taught him, and his class has a lot to live up to.

“I remember coming here as a freshman knowing this would happen one day,” Acker said, “where my class would get to take command. You kind of think it’s never going to happen, especially when you’re a freshman. Then, by the time you’re a junior, it all flies by so fast. It’s a really heavy, but awesome feeling.”

Graduating cadet Olivia Hime has one final message for both classes.

“2023,” Hime said, “I would say put your head down and run forward. Don’t stop. There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. You’re going to reach it, no matter how hard it may seem. Uphold the standard. And then for 2022, I would just say, we’re graduating but this isn’t the end. There’s a lot of stuff we have left to do and we’re still young.”

Graduation will begin Saturday, May 7, at 9:00 a.m., at McAlister Field House.