ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The U.S. Naval Academy on Friday canceled all public events for Commissioning Week 2020 over the coronavirus pandemic.
“This was a very difficult decision to come to,” said 63rd Superintendent Vice Adm. Sean Buck, “but due to the national impact of the coronavirus, I have canceled our traditional Commissioning Week public events in order to safeguard the health and welfare of the entire Naval Academy family and local community, which has been my number one strategic priority since the onset of this pandemic.”
Though it wont be traditional, Buck says he still plans to graduate and commission each member of the Class of 2020, but is still planning on how, when, and where the event will occur.
Other class milestone events, such as the Herndon Climb and Ring Dance, have also been postponed until social distancing protocols for large events have been lifted.
“There are certain rites of passage unique to the Naval Academy that every graduate reflects positively upon and thus helps to define and strengthen the Naval Academy experience,” said Commandant of Midshipmen Capt. T.R. Buchanan. “Even if not held this May, our midshipmen still deserve the opportunity to enjoy those milestone events.”
In the Naval Academy’s 175-year history, there have been 26 early graduation and commissioning ceremonies in order to support several war efforts. At the end of the Civil War, half the class of 1865 graduated early, in November 1864 in Newport, Rhode Island, and the other half graduated late, in September 1865, when the school was moved back to Annapolis.
In 1907, three separate ceremonies were held - two early, one on time. In 1917, Congress authorized the Naval Academy to reduce its four-year program to three; the Class of 1917 was graduated early on March 29, and three months later, the Class of 1918 was graduated on June 28, 1917.