Most schools celebrate homecoming with a pep rally.
For the past 49 years, cadets at the Air Force Academy have marked homecoming with a memorial service for academy alums who died in the past year - 108 this time.
The Sept. 6 sunset ceremony has as much tradition as the raucous rites of other schools. And officials say it brings deeper meaning.
"Homecoming isn't homecoming here like you think," academy spokesman John Van Winkle said. "There's no homecoming queen or bonfire."
The academy's 4,000 cadets gathered in formation for a roll call of the fallen.
As each name was read, the cry of "absent" echoed across the campus.
Academy officials say the annual rite is crucial to honor the fallen and to help future officers understand the meaning of sacrifice.
"They need to understand what service is all about," said Chief Master Sgt. Steven Ludwig, the academy's top enlisted airman.
Those remembered ranged from graduates of the academy's first class in 1959 to one member of the Class of 2013.
Two died at war overseas.
Capt. Victoria Pinckney and Capt. Tyler Voss, who both called Colorado Springs home, died in the May crash of a refueling plane in Kyrgyzstan.
Another remembered was the academy's first black graduate, Charles V. Bush of the Class of 1963. After serving in Vietnam, Bush went on to success in business and as a consultant and speaker. He died Nov. 5 in Montana.
Senior cadet Joel Cramer said the ceremony gives his classmates a lot to think about. The 108 people remembered at the ceremony were shown in a program with their cadet portraits. Their names were called by cadet squadron. Some made it to general. Others died as cadets.
"It helps you to think that they were where I am right now," Cramer said.
The service took an hour and ended with taps.
Family members of the fallen watched their kin get a final salute from 4,000 cadets.
Army Chief Warrant Officer Frank Grulkowski was there to remember his niece, Pinckney. The ceremony brought a single word to his mind.
"Honor," he said, as tears filled his eyes.