March 21, 2023
Annapolis, US 47 F

USNA Herndon Monument Climb (PHOTOS)

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The Naval Academy’s Class of 2014’s Herndon monument climb began yesterday 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.

Unfortunately, in the middle of the climb, a female midshipman was injured with what appeared to be a neck injury. She was transported from the scene by ambulance and was treated and released from Anne Arundel Medical Center.  During the event, the media was handed notification that the Blue Angels has also canceled their scheduled air show due to a safety stand down.

There were two years when the monument was not covered in lard–1969 and 2010. In 1962 it was modified to use a cargo net. Yesterday, it took 2 hours 41 minutes and 32 seconds to reach the top and the midshipman’s cover was placed by Matthew Dalton.

The event began with a recognition of the accomplishments of the Class of 2014 by Naval Academy Superintendent, Vice Adm. Michael H. Miller, U.S. Navy, and concluded with an award to the Class of 2014 from the superintendent.

Were you there? How lucky are we to have this institution in our back yards. Please leave a comment.

Note: the full gallery of 135 images (low resolution) is available on Facebook–feel free to tag. Additionally, high resolution images of the full gallery are available on our online gallery.

Editor’s comment: The photo used in the banner for this post really stands out for me for a number of reasons. Female and male, black and white, pulling together, holding each other in support to achieve great things despite adversity. Not a bad concept at all! (JWF)

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