Sunday, July 25, 2010
Celebration at the Naval Academy
A Celebration in Annapolis, Maryland
My wife and I had been invited by friends to attend the graduation of their daughter’s fiancé from the Naval Academy at Annapolis where he would be commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Marines. Needless to say, we willingly accepted the invitation, because after their wedding at the Chapel at the Academy, I would be marrying them later back in our church in Ohio for the family members and church family.
The young man, who was going to graduate and receive his commission from the Academy, advised me there were seats left in the stadium for guests who would like to attend the commencement. He assured me that I needed to be early because the President of the United States, George Bush, would be the speaker.
Eager to make sure we did not lose our seats; we arrived early at the entrance, in fact at about seven o’clock in the morning -even though the gate would not open until 8 o’clock. There were probably two or 300 in front of us. But when the gate was opened it did not take long until we were able to get our seats, which was near the top of the stadium. I was glad that I had binoculars and a camera with telescopic lens.
Even though we arrived at eight o’clock at the bench, the ceremony was not scheduled until 10 o’clock. However, before the commencement would begin, people began to fill the stadium until it was completely full. Before the President and his entourage landed nearby in his helicopter, other dignitaries were starting in. It was not long until we began to see more than 1,014 young men and women began to form and march into the stadium taking their seats.
The President of the Academy spoke first, and then turned the commencement over to the Dean of the Naval Academy who addresses the body. Afterwards, he introduced the many dignitaries, including the secretary of the Navy and other renowned individuals present on the stage. Then he introduced the President of the United States who himself had been a graduate of the Naval Academy and was a Naval pilot, who addresses the soon to be officers.
When he finish his address, the President turned to the Academic Dean who began to call out those who were to be highly honored, and after each was announced, thundering applause was given to each. Finally, he began to call each person in the order of their last name, and each came across the platform and shook the Presidents hand as he gave to them their commission.
By now it is nearly 11:30 in the morning, and I was quite tired after having gotten up early, so I began to nod and frankly went to slumberville. However, it was not long until I was awakened with the cheers and applause of 1,013 cadets. I turned to the young lady who would marry later to the new Lieutenant and asked her what was going on. She calmly said “He is the one who graduated last in the class.” I said last in the class? And she said, “Yes.” Then she told me an old Navy custom where everyone would give one dollar to the person who graduated last, because he saved them the embarrassment of graduating last. Now, math was one of my good courses, and it didn’t take me long to calculate that he made 1,013 dollars.
Shortly after the uproar ceased, He had ran to the platform and was jumping and somewhat oblivious to the fact that he was doing so in the presence of the President of the United States of America. However, when he calmed he turned to the President, who had taken off his watch and gave it to the young man, which I doubt was a Timex. He then shook the hand of the young man and gave him his certificate as the young man lost his composure all over as he continued to jump and shout running off the platform with the certificate above his head.
He may have received all the money and the President’s watch, but I doubt that was not what made as much of an implant on his mind, than the fact that he graduated. I could share in his excitement, because I had heard the Academic Dean say earlier that 169 that started with this class did not graduate. He may have been last but he finished and that was all that mattered to him at this time.
Annapolis is a beautiful city and boasts some of the finest 17th and 18th century buildings in the country, including the residences to all for Maryland signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Annapolis is the home of the United States Naval Academy founded in 1845 and also the home of St. John's College, founded in 1696 as King William's School and the third oldest institution of higher learning in the United States.
The United States Department of the Interior has designated the entire downtown section of Annapolis as a Historic District. This distinctive honor was awarded in recognition of the role Annapolis played in the founding of our Nation, coupled with the fact that it has preserved so many of its landmarks and retains so much of its historic atmosphere and charm. Annapolis remains a living, vibrant city, with distinguished architecture spanning three hundred years.
Anne Arundel County, surrounding Annapolis, presents a multitude of interesting sights and things to do, including golf courses, beaches, marinas, and miles of scenic countryside and farmland.
I enjoyed visiting many of the sites in Annapolis but the most excited I was come when I shared in the excitement of the young man who graduated last, but finished.
“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:”- 2 Timothy 4:7
From my weekly column in the Farmington Press and other allied publications. Dr. Alton Loveless is the former CEO/President of Randall House Publications, Nashville, Tn.; He is a freelance writer and has written for assorted publications printed both nationally and internationally. To see photos and read other stories click on http://altonloveless.blogspot.com/