Wussies rule the day at Annapolis:
First-year students at the U.S. Naval Academy clambered to the top of the 21-foot Herndon Monument on Monday in near-record time, a memorable performance in one of the most storied traditions at the Annapolis service academy.
But something was missing.
Two hundred pounds of lard.
The Herndon climb is a rite of passage for Navy freshmen, known as plebes. At the end of their grueling first year, they gather, 1,000 strong, at the foot of the monument and work their way to the top in a greasy human pyramid, fighting gravity and slogging through mud as upper-class midshipmen spray the greasy throng with hoses. This year, the hoses, too, were absent.
A plebe reached the top of the obelisk Monday afternoon in two minutes, five seconds. No one was injured. No one even got particularly dirty. The sense of collective letdown might have been captured best in the words scrawled onto one midshipman's T-shirt: "Where's the grease?"
Vice Adm. Jeffrey Fowler, the departing academy superintendent, instructed the midshipmen not to grease the obelisk this year. It was a gesture of his dissatisfaction with an event that, for all its rich, greasy history, has raised safety concerns with academy leaders. In 2008, four midshipmen sustained injuries in the climb serious enough for ambulance trips to the hospital. All four recovered.
"Admiral Fowler made the decision this year that it would be safer for the midshipmen to climb the monument without grease," said Cmdr. Joe Carpenter, an academy spokesman. He noted that no one was injured in this year's ascent.
The first mid to the top plants a midshipman's cap. According to legend, not yet fulfilled, he or she will be first in the class to attain the rank of admiral. It's a triumph of teamwork and grit and a sight to behold. Spectators have watched plebes struggle for four hours to reach the top. No class has ever given up.
Academy alumni are outspoken in their defense of beloved Annapolis traditions, and some who have scaled Herndon are outraged at the thought that the climb is being cleansed.
Hope and change at one of our prestigious military acadamies.
H/T to Bookworm.
Crossposted at Wizbang.