Anybody with an interest in history and tradition owes it to themselves to make a trip to Annapolis, Maryland to tour the United States Naval Academy, where our country’s finest Naval officers have been trained for almost 170 years.
Established as the Naval School in 1845 with a class of 50 midshipmen and seven professors, the name was changed to the United States Naval Academy in 1850. Since then the Academy has expanded to accommodate the growth and changes in the U.S. Navy. Its original 10 acre campus now covers over 300 acres along the Annapolis waterfront, and the student body now numbers over 4,000 midshipmen.
The Naval Academy accepts only the best out of the best applicants, and student life is hard and demanding. But few graduates would look back at their time here and tell you it wasn’t worth it. During their four years at the Academy, young men and women receive a fine college education as well as learning how to be officers in the United States Navy and Marine Corps.
When they graduate, they leave the Academy with not just a Bachelor of Science degree and commissions as Ensigns in the Navy or Second Lieutenants in the Marine Corps, but also a sense of responsibility and ethics that is ingrained in them from their very first day as plebes at Annapolis. They take that training and sense of tradition with them to new assignments all over the world.
The first stop when visiting the Naval Academy should be the Visitor Center, where a brief orientation film tells the story of the Academy and its role in supplying the nation with highly trained, competent young officers.
Noon formation is one of the great daily attractions on the Yard. It is held, weather and schedule permitting, Monday through Friday during the academic year and Monday through Saturday during Plebe Summer.
From there, a short stroll down Officer’s Row, lined with the handsome homes of the Academy’s senior officers, leads to the Academy Chapel.
The historic Chapel with its landmark dome is beautiful both inside and out.
Revolutionary War naval hero John Paul Jones, whose epic words, “I have not yet begun to fight,” have inspired generations of military men, is laid to rest in a crypt located beneath the Academy Chapel. Displays in the crypt include his commissioning papers from the United States Congress, awards and decorations, and personal items.
Preble Hall, located almost across the street, is home to the U.S. Naval Academy Museum. It would take at least a long day to see everything in the museum, if not more.
Displays inside the museum include weapons, uniforms, and Naval artifacts throughout our country’s history. This is John Paul Jones’ battle sword (top) and Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s pistol (bottom).
The top floor of the museum holds the amazing Henry Rogers model ship collection of over 100 highly detailed models of sailing ships and boats dating from 1650 to 1850.
Many of the scale models were built for British Admiralty. The gallery depicts model makers of 150 years ago carefully creating their masterpieces.
Give yourself plenty of time when you visit the Naval Academy, because there is a lot to see and do there.
Visitors with military or DOD identification, including military retirees and dependents, may drive onto the Academy grounds. All other visitors must park on the surrounding streets at two-hour parking meters or in the Noah Hillman Parking Garage (accessible from Duke of Gloucester or Main Streets), or at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Access to walk-in visitors is through Gate 1. All visitors over the age of 18 must have a valid picture ID. Visitor Center hours are 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. March through December and 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. January and February. Visitor access may be restricted during times of high threat alerts.
For more information, contact the Annapolis & Anne Arundel County Conference & Visitors Bureau at (410) 280-0445 or visit them online at www.visitannapolis.org
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Thought For The Day – America is a country which produces citizens who will cross the ocean to fight for democracy but won’t cross the street to vote.