Thursday, May 24, 2012

Observing a Naval Academy Tradition - The Annual Plebe Climb of the Herndon Monument

2012 Herndon Monument Climb

"Annapolis Naval Academy freshmen make a human wall to climb the Herndon Monument which is covered with lard, on May 22, 2012 in Annapolis, Maryland. Each year the freshman class, known as 'Plebes,' climb the monument at the Naval Academy to retrieve the Plebian Sailor's hat and replace it with an officer's hat. The tradition is one step in marking the end of wearing freshman headgear and moving up to headgear more like a U.S. Naval officer." (USNA photo)
I got to check one more thing off of my "bucket list" this week.  My good friend, John Byington is a U.S. Naval Reserve Commander, and a graduate of the Naval Academy Class of  1990.  Knowing that I would be coming to Baltimore to visit with him and is family, and to support the Red Sox at Camden Yards, John invited me to join him in observing the traditional Plebe attempt to ascent to the top of the Herndon Monument that had been thoroughly greased with Crisco by the Class of 2014.

For 2 hours and 20 minutes, we were among thousands of midshipmen, graduates, parents and neighbors who looked on as chaos eventually resulted in victory as Andrew Craig finally dislodged the cap and thereby dislodged the Class of  2015 from the category of  "Plebe"

"Students who are closing out their first year at the U.S. Naval Academy have completed the traditional climb up the Herndon Monument.  The climb is made extra challenging by greasing the 21-foot monument with about 50 pounds of lard.

It took 19-year-old Andrew Craig, of Tulsa, Okla., a little over two hours and 10 minutes on Tuesday to replace a first-year student's "Dixie cup" hat with a midshipman's cover on Tuesday.
Students began the yearly event in 1940. They added the symbolic placement of the cap on its tip seven years later. In 1949, upperclassmen began smearing as much as 200 pounds of lard on the monument to make it more difficult."

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