The Corner

Popeye The Sailor “Brave”?

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!

Sincerely,

VADM Rempt

Superintendent

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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