The Color Parade at the Naval Academy

Allow me to disrupt the current channel programming and bring you back state side to Annapolis, Maryland. This week is commissioning week at the U.S. Naval Academy. A full week of celebration, pomp and circumstance to celebrate the graduation of the current class of Navy cadets into military service.

As sponsors of two 2011 graduates of the Naval Academy, I had the pleasure of being able to attend the Color Parade last year. On a very hot and muggy late May day, the Color Parade progressed mid-morning with the midshipmen in full dress uniforms. The tradition of the Color Parade started in 1867 and is the oldest parade held at the Academy.

As the companies marched in, lead by the Naval Academy Band their black and white uniforms created a sea of midshipmen and women on the green lawn.

Part of the Color Parade is a lengthy awards ceremony where the midshipmen are required to stand in formation. While watching the steady and stable units something out of place started to happen.

Since it was graduation week, many of the seniors were out celebrating their success the previous night. Because of the heavy humidity and heat they began to drop like flies due to heat exhaustion and dehydration.

I sat and watched as one after another started to wobble in formation. Their friends tried to stable them, but many just had to succumb to the heat.

The Marines stood by the ready in the back of the units to discreetly remove the fallen cadets from formation. Two ambulances stood by in case of a serious case.

One by one, the Marines dragged out cadets from several units. Following the Color Parade I happened to walk by the commanding officers of both the Academy and the Marines who were in charge of taking care of the fallen Midshipmen. Laughing they joked at how many midshipmen had fallen during the parade – total count of 46 cadets !

Following the awards ceremony, the band lead the companies off the field we all went our own way.

10 replies »

  1. This is crazy – I can’t imagine how tough that must have been – hungover, hot, and standing at attention for hours!

  2. back in 1956 my brother was at the and our family lived at the Naval Academy and during the graduation ceremony and the marching of the midshipmen myself and 2 other boys—i was 9 at the time–marched out of the crowd and marched behind all the middies—boy did we get in trouble

  3. Great shots indeed… 😉

    Such a parade is a spectacular sight
    – a mix of future and past

    I was born curious, why are there both black and white belts …?

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