Re(3): Want to Bring the Naval Academy into the 21st Century? Get Rid of Parades

Will & All: I was at first amused by the earnestness of the young 2/c, wishing to dispense with not just the parades, but the infantry drill, rifle manual, etc. training which began in Plebe Summer. I too got pretty tired of listening to the thumpty-thump of a couple of supremely bored Chiefs Band drummers, as we stirred the dust on old Farragut Field. After all, I had won prizes in High School Cadets, done a pile of marching with the Marine Reserve, and it gave me a twitch of wry smile to hear fresh-caught ensigns trying to teach ME how to march and carry my rifle.
But then I had another thought. Is not the maneuvering of half-battalion masses, crisply moving in obedience to a single pealed-out command, a direct analogy to ship formations? When the flag-hoist goes down in "Execute", every vessel in the formation knows its place in the succeeding pattern, and steams promptly in various directions and speeds to take its assigned station. These things are not learned in a day or a week, and being part of a dress parade is a foretaste of greater precision in shiphandling. Being somewhat of a sandblower, I usually occupied a rear rank, but always did my best to carry out the rifle manual with as much snap and precision as though the assembled guests were only watching me. Furthermore, a parade is indeed a large part of showmanship--the citizens who paid for our four-year education damn well had a right to see their sons (and now daughters) perform to commands with alacrity.
So dream on, young segundo, of eliminating the dress parade--but think on these remarks with a clear mind, and at the end, I believe you'll agree that there's something uplifting about strutting past the reviewing stand and giving a smart "Eyes Right" to the distinguished guest.


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