Tradition is more than a word you hear at the United States Naval Academy. It is a theme that is woven into every fiber of the institution’s existence, a belief that is bred into every midshipmen.
|Photo by MCSN Brianna Jones|
One of the academy’s many traditions – the annual Herndon Monument Climb for the plebe class – occurred May 23, with fellow midshipmen, faculty and guests looking on. But a newer and perhaps humbler untold tradition of the day was an act of service and selflessness.
The plebes remove their shoes while waiting in front of Bancroft Hall for the Herndon Monument climb to begin. Once the cannon sounds and the plebe class takes off running, a group of upperclass midshipmen, this year from 15th Company and members of the Midshipman Action Group, begin collecting and sorting the shoes for donation.
For more than ten years the midshipmen have taken it upon themselves to donate hundreds of pairs of shoes to charities and shelters in need. This year, 515 pairs of shoes will go to Catholic Charities, based in Washington, D.C. The donation will be split between the Martin Luther King and New York Avenue Catholic Charity locations.
“Receiving this many pairs of shoes is such a blessing,” said a Catholic Charities driver and employee. “Being able to give these people in need something as simple as a pair of shoes can be the first step to getting them back on their feet.”
The midshipmen see this as a way to give back and serve the local community. Working within the fabric of the community is a tradition that runs strong within the Naval Academy, and it is apparent the midshipmen truly enjoy giving back and supporting."This shoe drive and everything done by the Midshipman Action Group all relates back to the idea of service,” said Midshipman 3rd Class Preston Cusher. “As military members, we are here to serve the nation. This shoe drive is a way for us to do just that by helping those in need in our local communities.”
This concept of service is one that attracts many midshipmen to this institution, and it is both touching and inspiring to see these young men and women embody this pillar of service.