Saturday’s adventure leads us into Maryland via the Metro New Carrollton) to meet Big Pat, Mrs. Pat, and Little Pat. The Pat family were my own close and protective friends from Baltimore, who I met in Nawlins at the Super Bowl. They felt sorry for the lonely kid from California, who endured Amtrak, and some bad meals, to join in the festivities unique to the Super Bowl.
And though they are die-hard Ravens fans, we got along quite well for a long weekend of festivities in the Nawlins area. I told them I would come back to haunt them if my Forty Niners lost their first Super Bowl in six tires. So, here we are.
So, the first stop in Annapolis is the U.S. Naval Academy. I think one of my cousins from a previous life graduated from here, and became quite successful as a contractor to the U.S. Navy. Attending any of the three academies was never on my radar, nor would I have been able to meet their standards.
Just a brief history reveals that the Naval Academy is a four-year co-ed college that began in 1845. It is the second oldest of the five service academies. I like their fight song, which is “Anchors Aweigh.” Candidates must apply for admission and normally get a recommendation from their US Congressman or Senator. Or be a child of a Medal of Honor recipient. They are officers in training, and called midshipmen. There is no tuition, in exchange for a period of active duty after graduation. About 1300 “plebes” enter the academy, with only about 1000 reaching graduation.
Graduates are usually commissioned as ensigns in the Navy or second lieutenants in the Marines. The program grants a bachelor of science degree in a broad academic program, similar to engineering, as well as military leadership and participation in competitive athletics. The education received ranks at the top or near the top of public education at the university level. I did not realize they get a monthly pay of $990 a month. Why do they get this, and our poor scholar-athletes in regular universities get into big trouble of accepting money from “outside” sources?
Fast forward to famous graduates of the Academy, leaving the nitty-gritty and various traditions for you to “google” on your own: former President Jimmy Carter (39th President and Nobel Laureate), Albert Michelson (Nobel Prize winner), Alan Shepard, David Robinson, Roger Staubach, Ross Perot, Chester Nimitz, Astronaut Wendy Lawrence, Stansfield Turner (also CIA Director), and Senator John McCain.
I must say it is a most impressive campus, mostly designed by a French architect. The midshipmen’s dormitory is the largest college dormitory in the world, housing over 4000 midshipmen. We took a tour through the dorm, and its main hall, where all awards ceremonies take place.
We also saw some of the athletic facilities (wrestling gym and swimming pool), along with the football stadium, which hosted the annual Army-Navy lacrosse match today. Would you also believe that John Paul Jones casket resides in the crypt below the chapel?
By the way, besides a full academic load, the Midshipmen are required to do TWO hours of physical exercise daily. Their summers are filled with “active duty” and assignments on campus, as well as a short break at home.
The trip started with a short tour of the town, followed by lunch at the famous Chick and Ruth’s Delly. Dirty Pat had the scrapple breakfast, Sheri had a salad, and I had the corned beef sandwich. Then after the official tour of the Naval Academy, we settled in to the equally famous Middleton Tavern, for crab cakes, oysters, oyster shooters, gumbo, and Caesar salad.
Our gracious hosts drove us all the way back to Arlington. It took well over an hour, but they insisted. We wanted them to see the cherry blossoms, but it turns out they were buying cigarettes for a relative since Virginia taxes result in $20 less for a carton! Bottom line, this is a campus you must see!