Wednesday, May 18, 2011

History of the Naval Academy's Ring Dance

Hey Preps!

Two more days until I arrive in Annapolis for the Second Class' Ring Dance.  I thought it would be neat to share the traditions and history behind this truly epic event.  My love of this history of Navy really draws a greater importance to this event to me...other than just wearing a pretty gown and having a great weekend...so here it goes:

First you will have to know that class rings at Navy are of huge importance. The rings come in all shapes and sizes, with every type of stone and setting you can imagine. What they all have in common is their class year and class crest. It represents the connection to the Academy and to their classmates.  Every year the Midshipmen design their own class rings...a custom that started with the Class of 1869. They will wear their rings with pride and distinction throughout their military career and probably for the rest of their lives. Many long retired Navy officers wear their class ring next to their wedding bands.
This just proves the pride that the Midshipmen have in their service to our country, and their relationships to each other.  Whenever you are around them...it is evident to see the type of unique comradery that they have established amongst each other.

Given the importance of the class rings, the Ring Dance is evidently of great importance...and is considered a right of passage of the Second Class, as they complete their third year at Navy and move into the leadership role as First Class.  At this very special event, Second Class Mids officially receive their class rings and have them blessed by dipping them into the "waters of the seven seas," a bowl of water collected from all seven seas. As the tradition now unfolds, Navy chaplains gather and mix water from the seven seas, then dip each ring into this water which symbolizes the mids being "wedded" to the Navy. It is a solemn tradition that the midshipmen take very seriously. Here, at this formal dance at the end of their junior year, Second Classmen are officially permitted to wear their class rings.

The Ring Dance itself is a formal affair.  The girls invited (or the female Mids...who are some of the sweetest and most beautiful girls around...for those guys who read my blog)  wear formal ball gowns.  These dresses must be sophisticated and elegant...the prom days are over.  Anyone in attendance will see the midshipmen at their spit-and-polish formal mess-dress best.


The dance begins with a dinner.  After dinner, there is the dipping ceremony...in which the Mids dip their rings in water from the seven seas and place the ring around their date's neck... and dancing. To conclude the dance, they have a spectacular fireworks show.

The Ring Dance was established as an Academy tradition in 1925. It replaced a more rowdy custom where the Second Classmen put on their rings after completing their final navigation examination. As the Second Class left the classroom building, the Firsties grabbed them and dragged them to Dewey Basin where they were then thrown into the Severn River. Unfortunately, in 1924 a Second Class midshipman named Leicester R. Smith did not come to the surface after being thrown into the water. He had apparently hit his head on the seawall and no one noticed that he did not come up. Midshipman Smith's drowning prompted the Academy to change the manner in which the midshipmen received their ring.

Much better manner of receiving the ring now...don't you think?

So as the weekend approaches, I am extremely excited.  Several members of Pat's company plus a few other Mids rented a house for eight couples to stay in.  There are lists of food, alcohol, music and events being rigorously planned by the Mids at the moment.  It is very evident that they are ready for this weekend as well.

Here concludes my essay that once again obsesses about the history of my boyfriend's school.  What a weirdo I am.  Hope y'all are having a great week!

3 comments:

The City Boy said...

there are so many fun events with the navy...who knew?

have a blast! :)

J. Scott said...

As a loyal Pittsburgher, I just loved happening across your site... our daughter is attending the dance as well, in fact she just flew in from University in Germany just for the occasion! I was just sorting through the plethora of info about this tradition (so I can imagine the event vicariously)...

Have a wonderful time!

Anonymous said...

I went in 2005 it was Amazing!

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