Utah Volunteers Hoping For Small Naval Graduation At State Capitol
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.
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