During the first two years at the Naval Academy, midshipmen have the option to choose a different path for their education and career. They can leave the academy, free and clear of any obligation to serve on active duty.
Upon entering their third year, however, 2nd class midshipmen are greeted with a serious long-term decision: to continue their studies as midshipmen for two more years and commit to at least five years of active duty service.
“As a company officer you see that they go from the hopeful young enthusiastic plebe to the mature, serious second class who realizes the gravity of the situation,” said Marine Maj. Richard Ruiz, 3rd Company officer. “They realize that all they have worked hard to achieve over the course of two years has amounted to this one moment that will change their life forever. The choice to dedicate their life to the Navy of Marine Corps becomes real.”
Through professional training, studying, athletics and extracurricular activities, the transformation starts to take hold and the midshipmen inevitably look forward to their futures.
“The commitment you have made for a life of honor is important for many reasons, but mostly because of what you will do after you graduate,” said Liszewski, addressing the mids. “You will most likely operate in a realm of the harshest circumstances known to man. In order to be followed in that environment, you have to be men and women of honor and leaders with character. By vowing to live by those principles here at USNA, you are preparing yourselves for what lies ahead.”
Members of the Class of 1967 – the “Link in the Chain” class that graduated 50 years ahead of the Class of 2017 – attended the dinner, including keynote speaker retired Vice Adm. Norbert R. Ryan Jr.
“The decision and commitment you have made to be a leader in an all-volunteer force will give you tremendous opportunities in your careers, but will also give great satisfaction and sense of purpose,” said Ryan. “This is just the beginning, and looking out at you all in uniform reminds me personally of why I served and why this country is great.”