On Wednesday night came the class german. Now our young first classmen were in for another thrill—–the pleasure of wearing officers’ uniforms for the first time.
On graduation the midshipman is an officer of the Navy, though a very humble one. The graduated midshipman’s uniform is a more imposing affair than the uniform of a midshipman who is still merely a member of the brigade at the Naval Academy.
On this Wednesday evening the new uniforms were of white, the summer and tropical uniform of the Navy. These were donned by first classmen only in honor of the class german, which the members of the three lower classes do not attend.
All the young Women attending were also attired wholly in white, save for simple jewelry or coquettish ribbons.
Dave Darrin, of course, escorted Belle Meade with all the pride in the world. Most of the other midshipmen “dragged” young women on this great evening.
Dan Dalzell did not. He attended merely for the purpose of looking on, save when he danced with Belle Meade.
On the following evening, after another tiresome day spent in boring the Board of Visitors, came the evening promenade, a solemnly joyous and very dressy affair.
Then came that memorable graduation morning, when so many dozens of young midshipmen, since famous in the Navy, received their diplomas.
Early the young men turned out.
“It seems queer to be turning out without arms, doesn’t it?” grumbled Dan Dalzell.
But it is the rule for the graduating class to turn out without arms on this one very grand morning. The band formed on the right of line. Next to them marched to place the graduating class, minus arms. Then the balance of the brigade under arms.
When the word was given a drum or two sounded the step, and off the brigade marched, slowly and solemnly. A cornet signal, followed by a drum roll, and then the Naval Academy Band crashed into the joyous march, consecrated to this occasion, “Ain’t I glad I’m out of the wilderness!”
“Amen! Indeed I’m glad,” Dave Darrin murmured devoutly under his breath. “There has been many a time in the last four years when I didn’t expect to graduate. But now it’s over. Nothing can stop Dan or myself!”
Crowds surrounded the entrance to the handsome, classic chapel, though the more favored crowds had already passed inside and filled the seats that are set apart for spectators.
Inside filed the midshipmen, going to their seats in front. The chaplain, in the hush that followed the seating, rose, came forward and in a voice husky with emotion urged:
“Friends, let us pray for the honor, success, glory and steadfast manhood through life of the young men who are about to go forth with their diplomas.”
Every head was bowed while the chaplain’s petition ascended.
When the prayer was over the superintendent, in full dress uniform, stepped to the front of the rostrum and made a brief address. Sailors are seldom long-winded talkers. The superintendent’s address, on this very formal occasion, lasted barely four minutes. But what he said was full of earnest manhood and honest patriotism.