As a youth, and even now, I have had no desire to join the Navy. This is and was because of cowardice.
My logic has always gone something along the lines of: in the event that someone is trying to kill me, what branch of the military would provide me the best ability to run away? In an airplane one plummets hundreds of feet toward the ground, but then there are parachutes. In the event that it does not open, at least you got to fly in a plane, or perhaps even sail through the air sans-plane right before the end. Very Exciting.
In the Army, if bullets start flying I can always run, run, and then run some more. Maybe I could dig a hole and hide in it, or even climb a tree. It is amazing how effective hiding in a tree can be. If I am running, you must shoot me in a vital organ, assuming I can live through the destruction of an appendage other than my head, and in comparison to an airplane or a battleship, I am a very small target.
Now consider I was on a ship. An evil doer would not even have to shoot me and I will still likely die. They could miss me by 100 yards, which would still hit the ship, which would then sink, leaving me to tread water in the middle of the ocean till I eventually tire and then sink 500 feet down to my kelpy grave. Lets not even think about a submarine.
The bricks of the barracks and columns lining the classrooms seem mortared with bravery and nobility. Walking on the grass or past the flags you breath history into your lungs where it is photosynthesized into patriotic adventure seeking energy.
Walking the campus even one so deeply civilian as myself grew a desire to salute everything I saw. Sincere salutes, no sarcasm. At its founding in 1845 there was already established a tradition and history that inspired instant prestige.
That prestige is just as tangible here as at Harvard but with maybe even a touch more pride.
It is the sort of deep seated pride that can’t be argued with. The sort that needs no recognition from others, satisfied in itself. The sort of pride that comes from this one certain type of relic in the museum. Not the uniforms of Admirals long passed, or the guns fired in battles long ago, but relics like the large book smeared in blood. Blood that came from Commander Arthur Anders, who in 1937 found his ship under attack. He was wounded such that he was bleeding profusely, unable to speak, yet he stayed at his post and wrote out his orders by hand. Those blood smeared orders are housed at the academy.
That’s the kind of pride this place is built to build.