Here’s a letter distributed by the superintendent of the US Naval Academy:
Dear Midshipmen, Faculty & Staff:
I want to make you aware of a decision I have made with regard to our
Alma Mater, “Navy Blue and Gold.”
An important aspect in the implementation of the Naval Academy’s
mission is to develop midshipmen into combat leaders who can build unit
cohesion and teamwork. In order to accomplish this, we seek to develop
a professional command climate that fosters dignity and respect amongst
all midshipmen, regardless of gender, religion or ethnicity. We want to
be inclusive rather than exclusive in all that we do.
In combat, success is not determined by skin color, ethnic background,
religious beliefs or gender. Success is based on building a team to
win. We want you as leaders to value diversity and form teams that take
full advantage of each person’s unique contributions and recognize
that everyone counts. To foster these qualities in our leaders, we must
start by ensuring that our culture and its symbols accurately portray
who we are.
The foundation of who we are is the oath we take to “Support and
defend the Constitution of the United States.” Our Constitution says
that Congress passes laws and the President signs them. In October
1975, President Ford signed a law that offered new opportunities for
women in the military and authorized women to be admitted to the service
academies. The following summer, the first class to include women
entered the Naval Academy.
Since the first graduate in the Class of 1980, 2322 women have earned
their commissions at the Naval Academy. Another 670 women are currently
working toward their commissions as part of the Brigade. Unfortunately,
our Alma Mater, “Navy Blue & Gold,” unintentionally excludes these
graduates and members of the Brigade who have chosen to serve their
country as officers in the Navy and Marine Corps. Every midshipman,
whether woman or man, has earned admission into the Academy.
Furthermore, those midshipmen who meet our high standards earn their
commission as leaders in our Navy and Marine Corps. Our traditions and
activities should not disenfranchise any of our shipmates. This includes
the words of “Navy Blue & Gold,” which should serve to honor the
bond of midshipmen, past, present and future.
Accordingly, as Superintendent, I am directing two small, but important
changes in the first verse of “Navy Blue & Gold” to ensure it is
fully inclusive of our Brigade and our Alumni. In the first line,
“college men” will be replaced by “colleges.” In the third
line, “Sailor men” will be replaced by “Sailors brave.” Without
changing the meaning of the song, these words will make our Alma Mater
inclusive of all who cherish it.
Why would I do this? Is it a response to political pressure? No. Is
it being directed from higher up? No. Nor is it a result of recent
headlines. This is my decision alone. It is a decision consistent with
our values. It is the right thing to do.
I need the support of each and every one of you. At the Graduation
ceremony on 28 May, and from then on, I want you to sing “Navy Blue
and Gold” with these two changes. As Supe, I don’t think I have yet
asked the Brigade, Faculty and Staff to do something for me. So, I am
now. Help me effect these two word changes. We need to move beyond
where we are and support all midshipmen and graduates who have earned
the right to wear the Navy Blue & Gold.
Best wishes for a safe and rewarding summer. Whether you’re on
cruise, PROTRAMID, here for summer school, on detail, attending
training, or enjoying some well deserved time off with family and
friends, be safe and be smart. We want to see everyone back and
motivated for the Fall semester!