The Question of a “Christian Nation”

When I joined the Navy as an Enlisted man in 1951, throughout Boot Camp every man was MARCHED to Chapel on Sunday, and beginning in 1953 I was again MARCHED to Sunday Chapel EVERY Sunday at the US Naval Academy for four years!

(I should not complain, because I have always sung in the Choir, and was the Baritone Soloist in the Naval Academy Chapel Choir. When we sung Handel’s Messiah in my Plebe (Freshman) Year, we needed female voices, but we had none in the Academy so we annually went to nearby all-girl Hood College. One of my friends tried to set me up for a girl at Hood to host me for the dinner and dance when we went to Hood for a recital. The girl, a Junior, refused, saying “Why would I want to date a Freshman?” After many refusals, she finally relented. We were married four years later!)

Now you may say that story was from long ago, and that is true — but within the last 30 days, the Air Force dropped the REQUIREMENT that Cadets swear “under God” in their “swearing in” ceremony.

Mind you, it made “under God” OPTIONAL, that’s all, and Facebook erupted! Thousands upon thousands of posts ascribing nothing less than Devil Worshiping to the Academy, and demanding that the words be put back in!

You can see the comments on many Facebook pages about this being a “Christian Nation” as opposed to a Nation founded by Christians, or a nation founded on Christian principles.

There are those who would have me marched to church, TODAY.




In spite of my all-too-long ago Naval reputation, I am not by nature a mean person, but I admit to a fair share of Schadenfreude. Witness my contention that in the modern age of transportation, anyone can live anywhere else on the US Mainland in five hours.
That is an appropriate observation as the East Coast suffers under feet of Global Warming, while I enjoy 82 degree days in the middle of February.
That is my choice. I left Texas at 17 after a year at Trinity University as a Math major, and Enlisted in the Navy. I took a long train ride to San Diego Boot Camp, and while I only pulled a couple of liberties before joining my first ship in Korea, it was pretty obvious that San Diego and my hometown of San Antonio had little in common, weather wise.
Upon graduating from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland a few years later, it was obvious to me that just as San Antonio had been to hot, and Annapolis too cold, San Diego was “Just Right.”
I spent ALMOST my entire Naval career (Submarines) in San Diego — after telling my Detailer that if he wanted me out of San Diego he would have to send three large men, and he was going to lose two of them.
The problems in the middle of the country, and on the East Coast, while recently unusual are within historical “norms” even though near the outside range. Of course those in Southern California and Hawaii are happy that we are not even more crowded, still we wonder “Why.”
I remember that when I visited Adak, Alaska, that some men re-enlisted to remain there because they lived hunting and fishing. Obviously, the human mind can find reasons to accept, even love, anywhere. (Adak has the Adak National Forest — a clumping of about 10 trees planted in WWII. Those trees were five feet tall when planted — and are five feet tall today!)
I see people living Cheek to jowl in NYC, and in remote ranches in Wyoming, so intellectually I understand that there is a wide range of comfort levels. I even had a rather close family member sent to live with the family of a Musher who raised sled dogs in the wilderness of Alaska — complete with a frozen out-house, and no hot water.  (The Laundromat in a nearby town had showers for those who came in to do their laundry.)
Normally, I can sit out on my lanai, and watch the Golfers and my Koi for 10 months a year. This year it is 12 months, and I do so hearing of pile-ups on Eastern freeways caused from snow.
But everyone lives where they want to live.

USNA is Looking Good

Like most who graduate from a college or university, I am proud of my Institution, and a message from the Superintendent today makes me doubly proud.

When one considers that the Naval Academy only has 4,000 Midshipmen (now, both male and female), that makes it about the same size as the Rancho Bernardo High and Junior High Campus.

The US Naval Academy (USNA) ranks number ONE in recommendations by High School Counselors, for one reason, I suspect because they know how hard it is to get in because, unlike most schools (other Academies excepted) there is both a rigorous physical and mental exam for entry

(When I entered, even “extreme ugliness” was disqualifying, but I am certain that is not sufficiently politically correct)

It is really amazing to me that USNA graduated 100% of their student athletes in six sports, and in all sports combined graduated 96%. (Overall for all NCAA colleges was 80%.)

US News and World Report ranks USNA in the Top Five of Engineering Schools, and in the Top 20 overall, including the liberal arts majors. (When I was there, everyone was an Engineering Graduate.)

With an overall graduation rate of 88% in a four year program, USNA rank sin the Top 10 nationally – it is Sixth. (USNA used to give SOME Midshipmen (NEVER “Mids”) who failed a course, the opportunity to take the entire year over from scratch if they wanted to stay – we used to say, “The Academy is a five year course but some make it i=n four.” I made it in four, barely. More than Graduated, it was more like I “Survived!”)

Forbes Magazine ranked 600 colleges, and overall USNA was 17th and US News and World Report had USNA #14.

As good as this is, it is even more impressive when you consider that physical requirements, and for that USNA offers (actually REQUIRES) participation in 32 sports – ranking third in the nation in sports offered, behind only schools Ohio State and Stanford. In the rigorous test of the incoming Class of 2015 last year at the end of the uber-rigerous Plebe Summer, there were only 13 who failed the strength test.

USNA had about 20,000 applicants last year for 1,200 spots, which ranks with Harvard, Yale and MIT.

Congratulations to those who will make it this Summer. It is much easier now than it was when I was there, but then it was much harder for those who preceded me. The difference between society and the rigors of the Academies, I suspect, remains about the same – society is easier and the rigors of Academy life are also easier, but going from one to the other remains about the same Delta.

I entered after a year of college as a math major, and having spent six years in military schools, survived Boot Camp and two years of Naval Service as an Enlisted Man — wearing three combat stars and a host of ribbons on my chest.

Plebe Summer was physically rough, then the Upper Class came back from Cruise and things got infinitely rougher. As an old military hand, I assured my Classmates that the Upper Class could not keep up this much pressure on us for an entire year.

I was wrong!