The United States Naval Academy celebrated its 175th Founders Day Saturday, Oct. 10.
The naval academy has existed since 1845 for one reason: to develop the next generation of naval leaders to serve our nation. Nearly 85,000 young men and women have successfully completed “four years by the bay” to take their hard-earned places in America’s naval service.
Many naval academy graduates have achieved greatness and earned a special place in our nation’s history during its struggle to grow and preserve its freedom. Their names resonate through history: Dewey, Halsey, King, Lejeune, Nimitz, Rickover, Spruance, Burke, Brown, Stockdale, Bolden, and Lawrence.
“The concept of naval academy tradition is really important,” said the naval academy’s 63rd Superintendent Vice Adm. Sean Buck. “A midshipman will always look back and see those who have come before them and what they’ve contributed to the nation. That is a tradition that is an inspiration to all of us to continue to live up to, a reputation to live up to and to carry on.”
Through the efforts of the Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft, the Naval School was established at a 10-acre Army post named Fort Severn in Annapolis, Maryland., Oct. 10, 1845, with a class of 50 midshipmen and seven professors. Today’s naval academy resembles little of its humble origin; the Yard has expanded to 338 acres, and is comprised of approximately 4,400 midshipmen and 1,600 faculty and staff.
As America has changed culturally and technologically, so has the naval academy. From an original curriculum made up of topics like navigation and gunnery and steam, the academy has evolved to now give midshipmen the state-of-the-art academic and professional training that they need to be effective naval officers in today’s fleet.
Time has passed and traditions have evolved, but the mission remains the same: to develop midshipmen morally, mentally and physically, and to produce the next generation of leaders who will shape the next 175 years of America’s history.