The U.S. Service Academies are national treasures because they exist exclusively to prepare young men and women to lead our country’s heroes. The Naval Academy holds a distinct place in our national character because America is a maritime nation with a sea-going identity that relies on a strong navy to defend her shores, explore the unknown, protect commerce, facilitate diplomacy, and wage war.

U.S. naval officers are genuinely aware of the connection between their place in this tradition and the significance of sea power – past, present and future. The U.S. Naval Academy, then, has a distinct responsibility to champion, promote and celebrate its position as a national fountainhead of U.S. naval history and an obligation to aggressively convey the bearing our naval history has on our nation’s future to tomorrow’s leaders.

From everything I’ve seen and heard, USNA’s new Superintendant, Vice Admiral Michael Miller, supports this point of view. He is a tested combat-leader, a visionary, a thinker, and a true officer and gentlemen. He is also an Annapolis alum who has spoken of his deep interest in history and naval history in particular – which is a bitter irony considering we are about to witness its death.

From their very first day on the Severn, midshipmen have a shared end-state: to receive a commission and lead Sailors and Marines. In this way, they immediately distinguish themselves from their civilian counterparts at universities and colleges across the country. Midshipmen maintain an incredible bond with each other based on an individual commitment to a collective excellence predicated on unselfishness: the understanding that service before self is life’s most honorable calling. That and the reality that you can’t survive a military academy alone.

What follows over the next four years is a moral, mental and physical evolution that is meant to test individual midshipmen’s devotion to service, steer them towards an occupational specialty that complements their personality and talents and best prepares their hearts for what will be the most challenging and rewarding life’s work imaginable … leadership in combat and at sea.

So perhaps it’s best said that the most critical function of our service academies is to imbue in the cadet or midshipman the ultimate humility: that none of their undergraduate experience is about them.

It’s up to the individual midshipman to embrace this – that they aren’t working so hard at the Naval Academy for themselves but rather for the opportunity to one day work so much harder for someone else – and it’s up to the administration to give the mids tools along the way to make their hard work pay-off.

Leadership training is one such tool. Moral and physical development are others. A rigorous curriculum of math, science and engineering are others still. But the tools learned in the study of history, and HH104 in particular – USNA’s required course in American Naval History – are some of the most important of them all.

As a matter of desired devices, history is entirely commensurate with the challenges of leading men and women in combat or at sea. A sound understanding of history provides the officer a lens to more clearly understand the mistakes and successes of the past, a framework to process the problems at hand, and a workable socio-calculus that helps approach an understanding of what tomorrow may hold.

Moreover, the study of history conveys an understanding of the human design, an appreciation for irony, a keen sense of collective memory, and a moral context to explain the reason they are all fighting in the first place. These are among the most valuable tools a decision maker, mentor, and leader can possess because these are the tools our Sailors and Marines need most from their officers.

All of this is invaluable intellectual training and plebes at USNA are immediately exposed to it in HH104. Just as significant is the specific history that HH104 relates: the complex and storied past of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps. In imparting this history, HH104 becomes an essential vehicle of acculturation. It imbues these novice midshipmen with a deeper and clearer comprehension of the experiences and sacrifices of those who have preceded them in America’s Naval Service. The course serves as an essential repository of collective memory and thus an integral means to integrate plebes into the culture of the Academy and the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps. In other words, the course – like other key components of plebe year – helps transform a jumble of motivated yet unformed individuals into an amalgam of inspired and unified officers-to-be.

Which is why it was so troubling to hear that HH104, American Naval History, is being moved from the 4th Class, plebe curriculum to the 1st Class (i.e., senior year) curriculum at USNA.

Here’s what happened…

At some point during last academic year (2009-2010) the Department of the Navy tasked the previous Superintendant, Vice Admiral Fowler, to add a cyber warfare class to the core curriculum. No public announcement was made. Apparently, last spring a small working group, operating in the shadows, was established to come up with a plan to create introductory and upper-level cyber warfare courses. The USNA community knew nothing about the working group’s tasking and work and learned of this development only last fall. The dilemma was how to add these courses without overloading an already full plate.

Surprisingly, the working group recommended moving American Naval History to 1st Class year. Apparently, they didn’t care that this decision will leave new midshipmen adrift and ignorant of the history of their profession, and their nation, for three years. Again, no official announcement was made.

The fact that HH104 was dead only came to light by happenstance. In October, the History Department underwent a routine, external review. The review report was distributed to the Department faculty in late October and HH104’s removal from 4th Class year, buried in the report, was presented as a certainty.

As word trickled out, upset ensued. First, the military and civilian faculty who teach HH104 expressed their unanimous opposition to moving HH104. Then, a number of History faculty who do not teach HH104 registered their dismay that such a major curriculum change would occur without any serious consideration and vote by the Faculty. The general reaction of midshipmen who have heard of the HH104 shift is consternation. Most recently, the shift of HH104 has prompted vigorous and agitated discussion within the Faculty Senate.

What upsets everyone as much as moving HH104 is the way in which it was done. The military and civilian faculty members who teach American Naval History were never consulted as to the effect this shift would have on the professional and academic education of midshipmen, nor was the larger History faculty consulted as a group. This change occurred in the shadows, violated the established policies regarding curricular review, and appeared as a fait accompli.

More troubling than the manner in which the decision to erase HH104 from the plebe curriculum was reached are the future, harmful effects this will have on the Naval Academy and on the Naval Service:

1.) Academic harm. Moving HH104 denies midshipmen an early exposure to the analytical tools History provides which would help them through the rest of their time at the Naval Academy. In HH104 midshipmen not only learn names and dates (which is important), they learn how to conduct research, write a research paper, think analytically, learn historical causation and the ultimate and proximate reasons why things happened the way they did, construct and carry an argument, and approach complex problems with the necessary perspective. And, perhaps most significantly, they learn about the relationship between the birth and evolution of the navy they have just joined and the nation they have just promised to support and defend.

2.) Educational harm. History is the foundation for an understanding of every social science. Teaching the required class in American Government (FP130), currently a plebe-year course, before teaching the context in which America became a government is, at best, sloppy and at worst negligent. Mids take Calc-I, Calc-II, Calc-III and differential equations before they go on to use those methods in tackling a complex electrical engineering problem. How can they possibly be asked to write about Federalism in FP130 without understanding the historical context in which Federalism occurred? From an educational angle, the course that should be taught later in the USNA curriculum is FP130.

3.) Professional harm. Who will give them – early – the basis of historical and cultural thinking called for by the CNO and Commandant of the Marine Corps in A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Sea Power? This is where West Point gets it right. The U.S Military Academy places an institutional importance on the study of history and its relevance to a successful, professional military officer and the success of its future operations in defense of this Nation.

4.) Moral harm. The aggregate effect of the shift of HH104 affects the Sailors and Marines the midshipmen will one day lead. The Fleet is weaker with a junior officer (of any major) who hasn’t been applying the analytical tools learned in HH104 over the course of four years of study. Our Sailors and Marines will have less effective leaders.

This all concerns me deeply.

Cyber warfare is important and in addressing it in its curriculum, the Naval Academy is being flexible and realistic in preparing midshipmen for the multi-faceted nature of 21st-century conflict. But of the two plebe-year courses that could move, why wasn’t FP130 chosen? It makes good pedagogical sense to have midshipmen learn about American government after taking their three core history courses which give them a sense of American and world history and the historical context in which the U.S. Constitution was framed.

One of the institutional strengths of the U.S. Naval Academy is its ability to adapt and prepare officers of the Naval Service for the next fight. But steeped in this tradition has always been a reliance on history. HH104, as the introductory course in historical thinking and the most effective vehicle to convey the collective memory of the U.S. Naval Service, is the bedrock of professional development at the Naval Academy.

Consider this sobering image: the Brigade of Midshipmen in Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in which about 3,000 of the 4,000 midshipmen have no knowledge of, or appreciation for, the names of battles enshrined on the walls there, nor any sense of the sacrifice those letters represent. Because 3,000 of these midshipmen never had HH104 as plebes, they will be tragically unaware of the significance of places such as Tarawa, Okinawa, Khe Sanh, and even Midway. We will now have a 75 per cent “ignorant” Brigade at every football game.

HH104 must continue to be offered to 4th Class midshipmen for one reason alone: none of this is about them. It is about preparing them to be the best officers for their Sailors and Marines – officers who are analytical, creative, and flexible and also soundly grounded in the heritage and history of the Naval Service.

Posted by Alexander Martin in History, Marine Corps, Navy
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  • Aaron

    Just a thought, since History doesn’t change that quickly maybe it would make sense to keep it in the plebe year curriculum and move cyber warfare, which is still a developing community, to Firstie year when there is less of a lag time between learning it and hitting the fleet.

  • +1


    Although my point of view shouldn’t matter as much (as I am enlisted), I want to share a perspective with you all. Our history, in this case naval history, may have been taken for granted here. But it is not taken for granted in other countries military academies and colleges. I personally learned (studied) more about our naval history, maritime strategy, law of the sea, etc. while attending the Australian Command and Staff College (Navy Single Service Semester) than I ever did in ANY US Navy schooling. THAT is very unfortunate. So, while we digress, others are not. Again, we become complacent. Sigh!

  • Matthew

    I’m in agreement with CDR Salamander’s +1 for Aaron’s wise suggestion. Besides the currency factor he quotes, I’d also like to suggest that having taken advance math courses and the EE200 series that includes computer engineering and basic networking concepts would enhance a CS100 level cyber warfare class.

    Honestly, I don’t remember a lot of the facts and figures from HH104 (it’s been ten years), but I do remember that it gave me a sense of “here’s where you fit in with regards to the legacy and tradition”, and it was an invaluable opportunity to learn to do research and write. These are two things that I think are fundamental to the remainder of a career as a midshipmen and naval officer.

  • Not Sure

    Not sure if the real reason for the opposition is because the faculty was told what to do without having an input. Moving the course is not a death sentence … times are changing fast and USNA faculty is just not reacting to the needs fast enough. Good call by Naval Leadership outside of the wall. It is also a wake up call for the faculty that they too must answer to a higher boss and their ‘will’ can be challenged.

  • Middie

    It makes no sense moving HH104 to 1/C Year. Starting in plebe summer, we’re constantly reminded of those who have gone before us and how their legacy shapes where we are today.

    I also had an incredibly gifted officer for HH104: CAPT Mark Hagerott. A Rhodes Scholar, White House Fellow, and surface warrior officer who had command at sea, CAPT Hagerott was able to tie the naval history that we studied into the basis of modern naval strategy.

    In short, leave HH104 as a plebe course so that MIDN can gain an appreciation for the profession they are preparing to enter.

  • re: “The dilemma was how to add these courses without overloading an already full plate.”

    Back in the day, Midshipmen had classes on Saturday mornings …

  • Sam Kotlin

    Arguing for this history course at the Naval Academy is a bit like plumping for a rhinestone necklace on a pot-bellied pig: it sorta makes sense but both are irrelevant. Rickover had it right: “Close the place.”

  • Dave

    Thanks again to VADM Fowler for keeping another secret. With all the required courses mids have to take, why move history? While I was teaching at the academy there was talk of an overall review of academics, to determine what were really required courses for mids. This could have developed into something which could have had tremendous impact on the majors offered. I do agree with the idea of a review, but one that recognizes what material a military officer needs.

  • Graduate

    Wonder if the overloading is not with the staff? Yes – if you really want it during Plebe year then bring back Saturday morning classes. But who will teach them? You have a captive audience with Midshipmen. I doubt the undertasked faculty will go along with that. Bottom line is this … either we open up to change or we can live in the past (past glory) and die. We must adapt and try new things if we are to grow. I applaud the decider for bucking the establishment and trying.

  • Charley A.

    I’d agree that HH104 belongs in plebe year – it just makes sense. Cyber-security is important, but I would argue that the basics should be included in a computer engineering/ science or information systems course to generate awareness. The field is far too complex to cover in a course or two.

    “…names and dates (which is important)…” – probably high on the list of why many people hate history classes. I’d say that what happened and why is more important, but that’s coming from a person who hates memorizing names and dates.

    Full disclosure: I’m finishing up a degree in cyber security.

  • “The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” HH104

    I am sure this is a decision which will be revisited and perhaps adjusted. From my perspective, it seems that both HH104 and cyber could be integrated across the curriculum at USNA.

  • HH104 is designed as a foundational course to be taught to inculcate a sense of the importance of the officer corps and its role through the context of history. Cyber-warfare is a specialization-oriented course. Proper pedagogy goes from the foundational to the specialized, not the other way. Coming to the study of cyber-warfare, a student could certainly benefit from having a basic historical understanding, as there are many non-digital analogies of cyber-warfare throughout history – cryptology, for example. The USNA should reconsider making HH104 a fourth year afterthought.

  • CDR Tom O’Malley, USN (Ret)

    We (the Navy as a whole) must do a better job inculcating our Sailors and officers on who came before us and why what our predecessors accomplished is important. The lessons learned, while from a by gone age in some cases, are timeless. Leadership, sacrifice, taking personal responsibilty, taking care of your crew and mission accomplishment must be learned early and often if we expect our leaders to suceed. Cyber warfare is very important and changing rapidly. Save it for senior year where it will be most current. Learning leadership and the lessons of those who came before us must start early! Just the 2 cents from a deck LDO.

  • sid

    For a gauge of how little regard history is given in the “modern” USN…One need look no farther than this bit of Stalin era style “history” that persists under the pennant….

    The announcement continues the practice of naming the agile LCS vessels after American midsized cities, small towns and communities.

    The “practice” didn’t start until this ship…named after one of the largest cities in the US, and part of one of the largest urban areas in the world…was named.

    But lets not mix in any real historical facts to cloud the narrative.

    And, not that the prime contractor building the ship is that particular city’s largest employer would have had anything to do with this new found “continuing” practice, I’m sure…

    If you don’t pay attention to the past, then somebody can just come along and make it up as they please…

    Instead of Stalinist…Downright Orwellian I’d say.

  • JamesinTN

    Its a history course. Everything in the world is built upon layers and layers of history. As others have said, how can you understand many other courses and studies without knowing Why something is the way it is or Why they think that way in a certain place.

    Its stupid. As Arron said just move Cyber to the Senior class.

    You know, now that I think this is just like in our public schools. History doesn’t truly matter…..well not unless someone was offended by it. Why do we spend so little time on the period of 1700-1945 and so much on 1960-Present?

    Then again from what I’ve seen lack of Knowledge of the past is at a all time high in this country.

  • Big Boy Navy

    Really? That big of an issue? Let’s look at why this could be a good thing:

    Get the cyber course out of the way and then just before they graduate, they take the history course that gives them the knowledge of history right before they hit the fleet. Then, what you get are JO’s that beter understand the history when it matters, and do not have their head filled with cyber for anyone other than IP does not matter. What I attempt to set before you is a proposal that history can and, probably will be, a better way to tie the Midshipman’s course of study together.

    1. Academic Argument: I would tend to agree that it would be better served in the plebe year if there were no other factors. But so much of what a Midshipman learns is not in the class room, between Reef Points, required knowledge and Pro-Quizzes.

    2. Education Argument: Is it really that hard for the Political Science professor to teach the historical context of the political events? Doesn’t s/he do that anyways? Isn’t HH104 about Naval History, not general American history?

    3. Professional Argument: Not only do Mids learn from day one about the historical significance of the Yard, but that is more or less the extent of their Naval impact at the time. When they learn in HH104 as a firstie about the greater scope of Naval History, they will better understand their place in the cog, how they will better make the transition from being a Midshipman to an Officer. So much of history can be the line that ties it all together, rather than the base from which to work.

    4. Moral Argument: To believe that a Midshipman cannot develop morally because the movement of one class, HH104, demeans all those who train, teach, and mentor Midshipmen at the Naval Academy on a daily basis. The aggregate knowledge of active duty Officers and Senior Enlisted coupled with every other class of Midshipmen who know the history of the Yard.

    Alexander, I respect that you feel deeply about this, but I do not understand how this could inflame all seventeen people above me (eighteen if you count yourself). Perhaps training the future of the Navy first in cyber and cyberwarfare will early will inspire more to pursue that course of study, which is what the Navy needs at a time like this. In order to train the Mids to undertake the upmost threats in today’s world, let’s look beyond what has been and to what will be.

  • sid

    In order to train the Mids to undertake the upmost threats in today’s world, let’s look beyond what has been and to what will be.

    So…Things are different now?

    BB, what is new about jamming deception and countermeasures?

    It would be much better to integrate this new iteration of those timeless principles of warfare into a broader historical context.

  • U.S. Naval Academy Public Affairs Office

    A recent posting about a change in the U.S. Naval Academy curriculum was inaccurate. The posting did not completely characterize the deliberate and thoughtful deliberations of the faculty who were involved in recommending how the USNA curriculum could be reorganized to accommodate an introductory cyber warfare course that USNA leadership, with Navy’s support, feels is necessary to prepare USNA midshipmen for anticipated, future warfare challenges. The following are facts in the USNA decision-making process:

    • The current proposal shows American Naval History (presently labeled HH104) moving into the 2/C year, not the 1/C year as was claimed in the blog. However, the exact placement of HH104 will depend on the precise course sequencing in each academic major (for 23 majors total), and so some variations may have HH104 in either the 1/C or even the 3/C year. It is expected that HH104 will be in the 2/C year in most cases.

    • American Naval History has not been solely a plebe course. It has been offered in many different slots in the curriculum including 1/C, 2/C, 3/C, and plebe year. Its placement in the curriculum has often been a matter of convenience. For instance, its most immediate location prior to now was in 3/C year; it was shifted to plebe year when U.S. Government and Constitutional Development (presently labeled FP130) was mandated as a plebe course and Naval History was assigned as its counterpart to attain symmetry as half the class took one course while the other half took the other course. Currently, HH104 is not always taken in the plebe year; for example, midshipmen who plan to major in Arabic or Chinese take HH104 in the 3/C year.

    • In the conversations and planning about bringing cyber content into the curriculum, USNA leadership did not consider dropping Naval History from the curriculum. USNA leadership continues to recognize the importance of this course to the development of future naval officers.

    • Shifting FP130 into a later year was considered to make room for Cyber-1 in the plebe curriculum. However FP130 was determined to not be a good candidate for the move because it is a prerequisite for nearly every other upper level course in political science. Moving HH104 was determined to have the least impact as it is a prerequisite for exactly one other course, and that course is an elective in history.

    • The potential shift of HH104 was proposed – initiated – as an option by one of the history faculty, and was supported by the History Department chair. It was then presented to the History Department faculty at a meeting of the entire department on Oct. 14, 2010. At that time there was no significant objection to the move, and a number of instructors voiced strong enthusiasm. Subsequently (on Oct. 18, 2010) four instructors did express concerns (along the lines that the content is foundational) in an email poll of the entire department. An additional five instructors responded affirmatively to the proposed move. All others made no response. A “straw vote” of the history faculty taken on Feb. 14, 2011 resulted in 16-6 in favor of the move of HH104.

    • The group that developed the current proposal, which includes the shift of HH104 as just one part of a much larger and more complex plan, consisted of the three divisional senior professors (representing the departments of History, Mechanical Engineering, and Mathematics) in consultation with the five division directors (Humanities/Social Sciences; Engineering & Weapons; Mathematics & Science; Leadership, Ethics and Law; and Professional Development) and several department chairs (Computer Science; Electrical and Computer Engineering; Seamanship & Navigation; and History). The president (from the English Department) and the vice president (from the Math Department) of the faculty senate were updated at several times (during regular standing meetings with the Academic Dean) during the fall semester. The development of the proposal was led by the three senior professors with wide ranging consultation of faculty and department chairs, the process for which began in May 2010.

    • The Faculty Senate Curriculum Committees (led by Chemistry faculty member) charged with formally reviewing such proposals was informed of the general nature of the proposal on Nov. 16, 2010.

    • The origin of the idea for a core course on cyber came from an ad hoc committee of academy faculty working during the summer of 2009. Faculty representing the following departments were part of that group: Computer Science; Electrical and Computer Engineering; Leadership, Ethics and Law; History; Political Science; Physics; Weapons and Systems Engineering; and Seamanship & Navigation. Additional members represented Information Technology, Public Works, and Finance. The result of that committee’s work formed the basis of nearly all of the developments that USNA has pursued regarding cyber, including the introduction of a core course.

  • Sam Kotlin

    See? Everything’s wonderful at the trade school.

  • YN2(SW) H. Lucien Gauthier III

    What a study on public diplomacy, social media, and the speed of information… To some extent epistemology too…

  • Has anyone seen the desired effects and educational objectives of the cyber warfare class? If so, please share. Without such insight, I’l refrain from participating in the cost/benefit analysis. What I don’t understand is what we are trying to achieve with a cyber class for Plebes.

    Are we hoping more will take a computer science track?
    If so, I guess I get it…

    Are we stating that cyber exposure needs to be a common experience across our Officer Corps?
    If so, place it later in the officer development continuum…

    Are we merely tempting our future officers with opportunities to contribute in the cyber domain that they won’t have?
    It’s an RL game in the current state…

    As I lobbied in my previous job (Information Warfare Officer Community Manager), we need to have a singular discussion that addresses training, education and accession. As it stands, we have what appears to be three separate and distinct conversations overly influenced by leaders who are tangentially involved in cyber operations at best.

  • Flashman

    I am in agreement with Sean.

    Cyber, as a warfare competency, deserves to be addressed in depth across nearly all officer communities as part of an officer leadership course if we expect it to be incorporated into the broader operational domain. I’m curious as to the reasons for this, given that USNA produces predominantly URL officers whose primary responsibilities as JOs will be tangential to the Navy’s cyber activities. Are they offering similar courses in Intelligence and broader scope of IW? I don’t necessarily question the value – I would appreciate if URLs came to their jobs more attune to IW&Intel, more capable of asking the right questions, and also understanding where the expertise should reside in the Navy as well as joint domains.

  • I wonder — do the beginnings of Cyber as a set of warfare skills have any parallel with the ones that began a hundred years ago? Is it too early for Cyber to have its own William Moffett?

  • Alexander Martin

    U.S. Naval Academy Public Affairs Office,

    Thank you for your excellent rebuttal on this very important matter.

    There are a few points I’d like to highlight…

    • “It is expected that HH104 will be in the 2/C year in most cases.”

    – Ok. But my point was that ‘Naval History’ should be taught sooner rather than later – for all the reasons outlined above….

    • “American Naval History has not been solely a plebe course…Its placement in the curriculum has often been a matter of convenience…”

    – Well, that’s a problem. The placement of Naval history should not be an after-thought.

    • “USNA leadership continues to recognize the importance of this course to the development of future naval officers.”

    – I’d certainly hope so.

    • “Moving HH104 was determined to have the least impact as it is a prerequisite for exactly one other course, and that course is an elective in history.”

    – You’re missing the point. The “impact” is deeper than these implications for the poli-sci department. The implications are that 1.) the number of history majors will diminish; 2.) future Naval Officers will not understand their own history while they are studying at Annapolis; 3.) history is the foundation for everything, etc…

    The message you’re sending is cyber warfare and political science matter more than understanding why the Naval Service matters in the first place.

    • “The potential shift of HH104 was proposed – initiated – as an option by one of the history faculty, and was supported by the History Department chair.”

    – This frightens me more than anything else…the number one priority of the History department at the US Naval Academy should be the study of military history. The neglect of military history (at large) is a much larger problem.

    “A “straw vote” of the history faculty taken on Feb. 14, 2011 resulted in 16-6 in favor of the move of HH104.”

    – The history department might not have any majors left to teach in the next couple years…everyone will be a “cyber-warrior.”

    • “The development of the proposal was led by the three senior professors with wide ranging consultation of faculty and department chairs, the process for which began in May 2010.”

    – This should have been a part of a much larger, open debate.

    • “The Faculty Senate Curriculum Committees (led by Chemistry faculty member) charged with formally reviewing such proposals was informed of the general nature of the proposal on Nov. 16, 2010.”

    – Ok.

    • “The origin of the idea for a core course on cyber came from an ad hoc committee of academy faculty working during the summer of 2009…”

    – Again, the problem isn’t with the course in cyber (sounds great!); the problem is that “cyber” is replacing Naval History…and everyone is standing by as Naval History dies…

  • “- Again, the problem isn’t with the course in cyber (sounds great!); the problem is that “cyber” is replacing Naval History…and everyone is standing by as Naval History dies…”

    Naval History is not dying. Not to worry. HH104 doesn’t have to be taught in plebe year for Naval History to live. This is a lot of fuss about ‘not very much’. There are more important things worthy of discussion than course sequencing at USNA.

  • Gregory James Miller von Richter

    An Epic Day In My Life—Newport RI 1988

    February 26th, 1:17

    In 1988 I had left the investment banking business because of the stock market crash of October 19,1987. It was pointless to continue because nobody was buying or selling stocks, and my job was mostly based on commissions. My wife a registered nurse began inquirying to the US Navy to become a nurse officer. She took her commission and was sent to Newport RI for officer candidate school. I moved from Sarasota to my parents home in the Finger Lakes,in upstate New York while she went to school. On weekends she would sometimes be given a pass for liberty and I would drive to Newport. As we drove around the Navy base she pointed out the many schools at that base. I saw cadets, and regular navy, and officers, but she pointed out a special school they had there that candidates who applied to the US Naval Academy but were turned down could go to this special school as a enlisted person and be prepped to re-apply the next year to the Naval Academy , and hopefully be accepted. My wife was in her final weekend before her graduation and I visited her that weekend. She was getting ready in the officers barracks and I proceeded to the staircase on the west end of the barracks. As I looked down toward the parking lot I noticed a young black sailor standing on the hill near the barracks in his dress blues and white dixie cap. His uniform was smartly fitted and I saw he wore the patch of a student studying to re-apply to the Naval Academy. His family was standing in a large crowd of about 12 or so relatives, and they were taking pictures like crazy of this young black sailor sporting a snappy salute. The looks of his relatives was of extreme pride, and I just know that young sailor was proud too. When my dad was a navy Chief on a Destroyer Escort in the Pacific during WWII a black sailor was restricted to being just a “mess boy” which means that black sailors were confined to duty in the galley of a ship or the officers mess room. That’s all a black man could be in the navy was a “mess boy”, and they were restricted from holding other ratings. As I gazed out from that staircase I too felt great pride. Most likely just as much as any of his relatives or him –for I knew I was looking at a miracle in American Life. This young black sailor aspired to become a Line Officer in The US Navy and one day may command an aircraft carrier. I was so overcome with pride in that kid, and the Navy and America in general I broke down into tears. Somethings I guess just move me. I think all who read this know full well it took an extra 150 years for black folks to be able to have this happen to one of their kids, but it did finally happen. Today we have even elected a Black President, I think the black folks should be equally proud that Mr. Obama was elected, but I hope they give us white folks some credit too. I beginning to think that the wounds of slavery, lynchings, and just plane disrespect for these folks is going to pass into history. The sooner the better. I wish I knew that young sailors name and wonder how it all turned out for him. I know many still hold prejudice, but if you saw what I saw that day I think you would have cried with pride too.

    ( Leave a comment )