Passing out is the completion of a course by military or other service personnel or the graduation from a college, largely in Commonwealth nations. Soldiers sometimes take part in a passing out parade upon completion of a basic training course. The military parade during the passing out also consists of military bands and other displays of synchronization discipline such as acrobatics.
The parade may also be referred to as a 'Marching out' parade as it is at the Army Recruit Training Centre at Kapooka in Australia. It is also known as "Pass off" parade as in the case of the Royal Army Physical Training Corps and Passing out "Ceremony" in the case of Warsash Maritime Academy. It is also known as "Sovereign's Parade" at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Since 1964, the Fire and Rescue NSW conducts a passing out parade on course completion.
A "reviewing officer", usually a senior officer, reviews the parade and hands out medals to cadets who have excelled. Militaries around the world usually allow civilian guests including parents, to attend the passing out parade. Dignitaries may also be present as was the case at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 2010 when the British Prime Minister David Cameron was present to witness the event. Other dignitaries at the event included relatives of graduating cadets such the President of Yemen and the Prime Minister of Bahrain. The chief guest at the military passing out parade of Napuka Secondary School, Cakaudrove, in August 2019 was the senior most female officer of the military forces of the Republic of Fiji. In 2019, Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the graduation ceremony at the United States Military Academy.
In 2019, the reviewing officer for the 136th Passing out Parade (POP) at the Indian Military Academy (IMA) was Lieutenant General Cherish Mathson. Having such senior officers present is a morale booster for the cadets. During the passing out parade, a dignitary may also make a speech, as was the case during the passing out parade in IMA in 2007, when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressed the cadets and guests.
The passing out at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, known as the Sovereign's Parade, is conducted three times a year. One of the main ceremonies during the parade is Trooping the Colour. Various awards and honours are presented to cadets who have excelled. This includes the Queen's Medal, the Overseas Sword and the MacRobert Sword.
The passing out can also consist of traditions such as presentation of a "Sword of Honour" as in the case of Sandhurst and Indian and Pakistan military academies. In 2010 for the first time in the history of the Officers Training Academy, India, a female cadet, Divya Ajith Kumar, was presented the sword of honour.
Another tradition that happens during the passing out is the "Shipping-of-Stripes" as in the case of the Indian Naval Academy. During this ceremony, senior officers and the relatives of the passing out cadets ship the epaulettes (commonly known as "Stripes") on the uniform. This represents the graduation of the cadets into officers.
A common song that is played during the passing out, especially in Commonwealth countries, is Auld Lang Syne, a Robert Burns poem. The military parade during the passing out also consists of military bands. At the Indian Military Academy, before the cadets begin the passing out parade ceremony, the band plays a melody (aarti), allowing the cadets to pray to their respective god.
The first recorded hat toss in United States was in 1946 at West Point. After the hat toss, children are allowed to take one hat each. Cadets fill the hats with notes, snapshots, and even money for the children. At some places such as the Indian Military Academy flinging-of-cap has been stopped. The tradition of cap-flinging during the passing out parade has a long past, the tradition starting well before India's Independence from British rule. It was stopped in 2010 as some people found it disrespectful for the caps to touch the ground.
Other traditions include the adjutant leading the parade to crack a joke to lighten the atmosphere, as in the case of the Indian Military Academy passing out parade. At the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, the parade finale includes the adjutant riding up the steps of the Old College (the origin of this tradition is unknown). At the Indian Military Academy, the finale is the antim path (final step), where cadets take the last step into Chetwode Hall.
The passing out parade is depicted in the 1980s book "The Passing-out Parade: A Play" by British writer Anne Valery. In the 2004 Bollywood movie Lakshya, Hritik Roshan on completion of his course at the Indian Military Academy, takes part in a Passing out Parade.
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