Utah Volunteers Hoping For Small Naval Graduation At State Capitol

Apr 21, 2020, 7:40 PM | Updated: 8:21 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – For the first time in 175 years, the United States Naval Academy has cancelled their events leading up to graduation, impacting a handful of officers in Utah.

Commission Week has been a huge rite of passage for graduates of the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

The festivities have typically been held during the third week of May. It is a full week of events leading up to the huge ceremony for as many as one thousand graduating midshipmen.

Each year, they send off about a thousand officers. It’s hard to make up for missing all of the events that highlight not only the finishing of a four-year degree, but the beginning of a military career.

Of course, because of concerns from COVID-19, that was all canceled for the 2020 graduating class.

“It’s been a little bit shocking (and) definitely disappointing, but I totally understand,” said Midshipman First Class, Alex Hardy. “This is a challenging time. We have to work together as a country.”

Hardy said just a couple of days ago he learned some local alumni and parents of other officers were trying to organize a ceremony in Utah. They were going through proper channels so the new officers can be officially sworn in.

They hoped to have a small ceremony at the steps of the Utah State Capitol.

“It’s been really motivating to see the support that people here in Utah have for us in the Naval Academy and to want to make this a special time for us, even though it may not look like a traditional Navy Academy graduation,” Hardy said.

The hope was to hold the Utah ceremony on the same date as the canceled graduation – May 22. Organizers wanted to include as many of the commissioning traditions as possible, like marching in, the oath of office, the first salute and cover toss. Everything was still in the early stages and nothing was set in stone.

Hardy said just knowing that there were people doing this for him and the five to six other graduates in Utah makes a big difference.

“It’s a really special moment, commemorating not just the work of each midshipman throughout the four years, but the hard work their family, their friends, their loved ones and neighbors have put in, supporting them through it,” said Hardy. 

The Naval Academy has held the ceremony since 1845, with thousands and thousands of graduates participating.

“It’s not just about us or anything that we’ve done, but it’s really about the sacrifices of those that have gone before us and wanting to follow in their footsteps,” he said.

He said a large part of the traditional graduation was in having senior officers send them off.

“It would mean so much to me. I totally understand. I totally support the decision to cancel the tradition of events for everybody’s health and safety, but it’s also so exciting and so motivating to see the support of the people hear back home,” Hardy said.

Coronavirus Resources

How Do I Prevent It?

The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:

  • Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

How To Get Help

If you’re worried you may have COVID-19, you can contact the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707 to speak to trained healthcare professionals. You can also use telehealth services through your healthcare providers.

Additional Resources

If you see evidence of PRICE GOUGING, the Utah Attorney General’s Office wants you to report it. Common items in question include toilet paper, water, hand sanitizer, certain household cleaners, and even cold medicine and baby formula. Authorities are asking anyone who sees price gouging to report it to the Utah Division of Consumer Protection at 801-530-6601 or 800-721-7233. The division can also be reached by email at

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Utah Volunteers Hoping For Small Naval Graduation At State Capitol