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Happy B’day, USNA!

Somehow, in our sports- and entertainment-crazed society, a lot of people think only of football (specifically the Army-Navy game) when they hear the words U.S. Naval Academy. They are woefully mistaken. The athletic competition is merely a tool in reaching the overall goal of the Academy: to produce Navy and Marine officers “of competence, character, and compassion.”

The U.S. Naval Academy is a four-year undergraduate college program from which graduates come out with B.S. degrees and commissions as either ensigns (Navy) or first lieutenants (Marines) and give at least the next five years of their lives in military service to their country.

The U.S. Navy was born during the War for Independence when the colonies, without a navy to speak of, were pitted against the might of the world’s greatest naval power. When peace came, the Navy languished until 1794, when George Washington revived it to combat piracy. The first ships of the new

navy were launched three years later, in 1797. They were the United States (which was broken apart and its wood sold in 1865), the Constellation (now a museum piece in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, not the original but built from some scraps salvaged from the original), and the Constitution, the oldest warship still afloat.

George Bancroft, historian and Secretary of the Navy, was instrumental in establishing (without congressional funding!) the Naval School in Annapolis on October 10, 1846. It was renamed the U.S. Naval Academy in 1850.

According to the USNA web site, notable graduates of the Academy include

  1. a president (Jimmy Carter)

  2. 3 cabinet members

  3. 19 ambassadors

  4. 24 congressmen

  5. 5 governors

  6. 5 Secretaries of the Navy

  7. a Secretary of the Air Force

  8. 5 chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

  9. 29 Chiefs of Naval Operations

  10. 9 Commandants of the U.S. Marine Corps

  11. 54 astronauts

To me, however, the greatest testimony of the effectiveness of the U.S. Naval Academy’s educational program is the fact that 73 of its graduates have won the Congressional Medal of Honor.

This is one land lubber who appreciates all that the Navy does for us in protecting our shores and our liberties. And the U.S. Naval Academy has played a huge part in their work. If you know a Navy veteran or a graduate of the Academy, express your thanks to them.

[Reminder: I will be participating in the Author Forum and Book Signing during the BJU Homecoming and Family Weekend on Friday, October 13. The forum will be held at 2:00 p.m. in Levinson Hall. I hope to see many of you there. ]

Copyright (c) 2017, Dennis L. Peterson

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