Page images




The United States Naval Academy at Annapolis renders to the Navy the services which the Military Academy established at West Point renders the Army of the United States. The midshipmen, as the students of this institution are called, are appointed, seventeen by the President, twenty-five by the Secretary of the Navy and three by each Senator and Member of Congress. Upon mental and physical examination they are admitted and pursue a course of four years of technical study at the expense of the United States. The total number allowed by the law is 3,128; the actual number of midshipmen in regular course in the fall of 1917 is 1,442.

It is interesting to recall that the Naval Academy was established on October 10, 1845, without act of Congress, by the distinguished American historian, George Bancroft, then Secretary of the Navy in President Polk's administration, by the simple device of removing the instructors from the men-of-war, who accompanied and instructed the midshipmen, and locating instructors and midshipmen at Annapolis in Fort Severn, assigned to the enterprising Secretary of the Navy by the then Secretary of War.


During the greater part of my life I have been associated with young men, and on occasions it seems to me without number have faced bodies of youngsters going out to take part in the activities of the world, but I have a consciousness of a different significance in this occasion from that which I have felt on other similar occasions. When I have faced the graduating classes at universities I have felt that I was facing a great conjecture. They were going out into all sorts of pursuits and with every degree of preparation for the particular thing they were expecting to do; some

without any preparation at all, for they did not know what they expected to do. But in facing you I am facing men who are trained for a special thing. You know what you are going to do, and you are under the eye of the whole Nation in doing it. For you, gentlemen, are to be part of the power of the Government of the United States. There is a very deep and solemn significance in that fact, and I am sure that every one of you feels it. The moral is perfectly obvious. Be ready and fit for anything that you have to do. And keep ready and fit. Do not grow slack. Do not grow slack. Do not suppose that your education is over because you have received your diplomas from the academy. Your education has just begun. Moreover, you are to have a very peculiar privilege which not many of your predecessors have had. You are yourselves going to become teachers. You are going to teach those 50,000 fellow countrymen of yours who are the enlisted men of the Navy. You are going to make them fitter to obey your orders and to serve the country. You are going to make them fitter to see what the orders mean in their outlook upon life and upon the service; and that is a great privilege, for out of you is going the energy and intelligence which are going to quicken the whole body of the United States Navy.

I congratulate you upon that prospect, but I want to ask you not to get the professional point of view. I would ask it of you if you were lawyers; I would ask it of you if you were merchants; I would ask it of you whatever you expected to be. Do not get the professional point of view. There is nothing narrower or

« PreviousContinue »