The Naval Academy’s Class of 2015’s Herndon monument climb began today at 1:30 p.m., near the front of the Naval Academy Chapel.
Each year, the roughly 1,000 members of the academy’s plebe (freshman) class form a human pyramid around the 21-foot tall Herndon Monument. Members of the class try to make it to the top to remove a plebe hat, or “dixie cup,” that upperclassmen have placed on the top of the obelisk. The midshipman then replaces the “dixie cup” with a midshipman’s cover. To complicate the matter, the obelisk is covered with 200 pounds of lard.
Tradition has it that the midshipman who makes it to the top will be the first in his class to achieve the rank of Admiral. The climb, a tradition since 1950, has recently been the subject of some controversy when former Academy Superintendent Vice Admiral Jeffrey Fowler disallowed the use of the lard. Current Superintendent, Vice Admiral Michael H. Miller reinstated the long standing tradition.
Andrew Craig of Tulsa, Oklahoma was the plebe to make it to the top. The official time for the class of 2015 was 2:10.13.
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