Why I Resigned From Annapolis

by RALPH LEE SMITH

1

ON a cold Sunday afternoon early this year, I sat down at my desk, took out a pad of official correspondence paper, and began writing a statement headed “Subject: Resignation from the United States Naval Academy and the United States Naval Service.” Thus, I am an ex-midshipman — one of the many ex-midshipmen. Resignations from the Naval Academy last year created a rumbling here and an ominous note there. But from it all, we can only draw a picture of disunity and confusion; a picture of malcontents hastening on their own way, grumbling their pet peeves as they go. Such a picture certainly does nothing to encourage public interest in a real, current problem. It does nothing to further a constructive inquiry into the causes behind the resignations.

Some suppose that, with the cessation of hostilities, many “fair-weather sailors” have abandoned the Annapolis ship that kept them in the United States and out of the draft through the actual fighting. No conception could be more misleading. During the war, increased competition for Annapolis appointments itself served to perform a good preliminary sorting job, eliminating many of those whose motives were doubtful.

Further, if such a theory were correct, what explanation would there be for the resignation of midshipmen who had previously served as enlisted men, and even as officers? These “fleet competitors” came in the hard way, with the sincere intention of becoming career officers; yet they resigned. It is probably true that among the resignees are a few men who were waiting out the war at Annapolis; but to attach their stigma to the entire group serves only to perpetuate the unhealthy situation which is bringing the resignations about. It goes without saying that the resignations in themselves pose a problem. However, they would be of comparatively little consequence were they not symptoms of the conditions which exist at the Academy — conditions which would merit close scrutiny even if there were no resignations at all.

Every civilian college has been surprised and gratified by the seriousness of its post-war students. Their maturity and capacity have prompted many colleges to make revisions and improvements in their programs, in order to develop more fully the superior qualities of these men. The Naval Academy, on the other hand, has found the maturity of many of its post-war students to be an unpleasant surprise and an endless annoyance. I he Navy has no time for men who would overhaul the Academy’s ancient, tradition-ridden program.

“If you don’t like the way we do things here,” our class was informed during a plebe summer lecture, “then get out.”

I was at the Naval Academy for nineteen months. I remained there for my entire “plebe year,” I went on the “youngster cruise,” and I stayed for six months as a third classman. My impressions are not those of a man who resigns after a few tough months as a plebe. And, in resigning, I did not wait until I was out of the Academy to express my views. I wrote them into my resignation statement. In this statement, which is too long to quote in its entirety, I outlined my objections to the Naval Academy’s “plebe” system, which were the main reasons for my resignation.

“The plebe system,” I said in my statement, “is based upon the theory that it is permissible for one person to cause unnecessary discomfort to another person. I cannot personally conceive, by any stretch of the imagination, that there is any truth in such a doctrine; but rather than propound and examine theories, I should prefer to examine the system in actual operation. . . .

“It is the privilege of every upperclassman to obtain what pleasure he may from the position to which the fourth classman is arbitrarily relegated. The character of the individual upperclassman — his ability to exercise properly the extraordinary authority thus placed in him — has no bearing on the matter. The plebe, for his part, may possibly possess those peculiar qualities of pride which, rather than mark the hypocrite, often manifest themselves in natures characterized by commendable idealism and high courage. For the purposes of the system, however, this does not matter. . . .

“Why this plebe system? I have asked the question many times. The answer is always the same. ‘The plebe system teaches discipline. It teaches respect for authority.’ Now, these are surely praiseworthy aims, and if the plebe system actually accomplished them, and if no other system could accomplish the same ends, then there might conceivably be some justification for the plebe system. But the bald facts are that the plebe system not only fails utterly in the accomplishment of these ends, but it fosters habits and modes of thinking that are despicable from a personal point of view and dangerous from a national point of view.

“The plebe system, as I have already observed, depends for its enforcement upon the individual upperclassman. However, by its very nature, it appeals to the narrow-minded, the self-important, the unintelligent, and the very few actually sadistic members of the upper class. It is this worst element which carries on the traditional indoctrination from year to year, in all its petty tyranny. It is not the finer men in the class who carry on the indoctrination, as would be necessary if the system were to be at all consistent with its professed objectives. The men of intelligence and sympathy, that small percentage to be found at the top of every organization, will have no part of it. These men, who are pre-eminently qualified to teach authority and discipline, both by precept and example — these are the men who simply will have nothing to do with the plebe indoctrination in its present form. So, the plebe finds that his most rigorous indoctrination comes from the hateful few, and the plebe who is possessed of some elements of pride almost invariably discovers that he has become a special target for the most devious devices at the command of the upperclassman.

“And what does this teach the plebe? Does it teach him respect for authority? Who that considers himself a man could respect these men who ‘indoctrinate’ him in such a fashion? Does it teach discipline? It does not. It produces exactly the opposite result, for the plebe soon discovers that it pays him, not to adhere to the letter and the spirit of the regulations, but to become a ‘systembeater.’ He has no compunctions about attempting to avoid the performance of the many childish and anachronistic plebe rituals. . . . And, by the time the plebe himself has become an upperclassman, the cold mark of the indoctrination may be upon him, and the succeeding plebe classes will suffer for it. Is it actually considered desirable to inculcate into the naval officer these traits? Is it desirable to imbue him with this coldness of spirit — the naval officer, who, more than any other man, should devote his time to understanding men, and helping them? . . .

“What in the world does the Navy assume about the intelligence of its future officer corps, that it officially sanctions and encourages such an incredible system of teaching discipline? What is the purpose of the rigid mental requirements for entrance to the Academy? Why have mental requirements if the Navy is going to assume that the average intelligence of the brigade is so low that it is necessary to resort to such a device as the plebe system in order to teach discipline? . . .

“The Navy adoption of the new ‘Holloway Plan’ seems to be one more spectacle in this strange pageant of errors and inconsistencies. [Note: The Holloway Plan provides four-year scholarships for the training of regular Navy officers in the nation’s colleges.] For, by endorsing such a plan, the Navy tacitly admits that it is entirely possible to produce a regular officer on a par with Annapolis graduates, without any of the ritualistic hocus-pocus of the plebe year. . . .

“What can be accomplished by two men who are pulling against each other that cannot be accomplished more efficiently and expeditiously by two men who are pulling together? . . .

“I am particularly anxious that it be understood that I fully appreciate the many fine things about the Navy. I do not mention them simply because they do not pertain to my resignation. The Navy can stand on a record of pure accomplishment that defies all assault. And yet, I am sure that the highest ranking officers would be the first to assure me that much remains to be done.”

2

THE plebe system is an initiation ritual which has its own peculiarities, but which is probably not different from other initiations with which the public is more familiar. But there is one great, fundamental difference between the plebe indoctrination and ordinary initiations. The ordinary college or fraternity initiation is nothing but tough, old-fashioned horseplay. The initiation pretends to no lofty purposes or attainments. At Annapolis, on the other hand, the plebe indoctrination is carried out seriously and grimly, with the noblest pretensions, and under the loftiest banners. It should, then, be studied in the same serious light, since the question of its actual accomplishments, in contrast to its theoretical ones, has been raised so persistently by a steadily increasing number of unquestionably earnest voices.

Since my resignation, proponents of the plebe system often ask me, “What is plebing?” Their purpose is obvious. For, no matter what phase of the plebe ritual I should choose as an answer to their question, they would then say, “Well now, is that so bad after all? Is it going to kill anybody?”

The answer is, of course not. The effect of the plebe system is more subtle, and it thus escapes general notice. It works upon the young mind, not the body. It teaches a fundamentally wrong way of thinking of, and of working with, other men. It is a four-year course in the extermination of the sympathies. It is a callous lesson in the procurement of pleasure through the physical and mental pain of another person. Its professed objectives are certainly not this; but beyond any question, it is able to produce such an effect in all too many minds.

Real sadism among the upperclassmen is the exception rather than the rule. Sadism is confined to certain individuals and to certain companies. Each plebe’s experience, of course, is different. However, every plebe will, in the course of his fourth-class year, be the object of some real sadism. An example from my own experience is typical of what the plebe can occasionally expect.

One morning during “plebe summer” I decided that it was sufficiently cool to put a blanket on my bed when I made it up. My room was on the “Zero Deck,” and after noon meal a first classman out on the formation terrace happened to look into my room and observe the blanket. He yelled in to me that I wasn’t allowed to put a blanket on my bed and that I was to remove it. His section then marched off to class.

I didn’t have time to remove the blanket and remake the bed at that moment. I was on my way to an ordnance drill, which took all afternoon.

The first classman was waiting for me when I returned to my room. No plebing of any kind was permitted during plebe summer, but this proved no obstacle for him. Although the beginning of the academic term was still two months away, he took my name, gave me his, and told me that, for my offense, I was to look him up and “pay him a visit” when the term began. I was then thinking as a civilian, not a plebe, and I soon forgot the entire incident.

3

Two weeks after the beginning of the academic term, a first classman walked into my room.

“Do you know who I am?” he asked me.

“No, sir,” I replied.

“Remember plebe summer? Remember the blanket on your bed?”

With some difficulty, I remembered the incident.

“Why didn’t you come around?” he asked.

I told him I had forgotten all about it.

“You forgot, eh?” he grunted. “Well, you’d better get around to Room —— tonight if you know what’s healthy for you.” He had remembered the incident for two months, and although my room had been changed, he had taken the trouble to look it up and had come all the way to the sixth wing, third deck, to find me.

That night I reported to his room. I went in, “sounded off” in the prescribed manner, and stood at rigid attention.

“Well, well, well,” he grinned in anticipation. “I’m glad you could make it tonight, Mister Smith. ”

He turned to the four other first classmen who were playing cards in his room. “Gentlemen,”he said, “this is the young man that made a blanket into his sack during plebe summer. ”

The first classmen turned around and eyed me briefly.

“See that little green stool over there?” my inquisitor asked me. Of course there was no stool there, but the correct answer to the question, and the one which I gave, was “Yes, sir.”

“Get a dictionary,” he said.

I got one from a shelf.

“Sit on the little green stool.”

I squatted on the nonexistent stool.

“Now, open the dictionary to the definition of ‘color’ and read it to me, ”

I opened the dictionary, and discovered that the definition of “color” took a whole column. I began reading. The first classman paid no further attention to me; he watched the card game and joked with the players.

My legs in time gave out and I collapsed. The first classman glanced up from the game. “Get up, he said.

“I can’t, sir,” I replied.

His face hardened. “I said ‘get up.’ When I tell you to do something, don’t tell me that you can’t.”

I did the best X could. I’d get up into the sitting position and then tumble again. He finally looked up from the game again and smiled coldly. “ Gettin tired, buddy?”

I stared back at him and said, “No, sir.”

He returned to the game. “You’d better keep tryin’ then,” he said.

After a while he said, “You need a rest. Try forty-nine push-ups. ”

So I started to do push-ups, but I wasn’t in any shape to do forty-nine at that moment. He left the card table and stood over me. “I got an idea,”he said. “How’d you like to swim to Baltimore?”

I didn’t answer.

“Well?” he demanded impatiently.

“I don’t know what you mean, sir.”

“What! You never swam to Baltimore? How do you expect to be a sailor if you’ve never swum to Baltimore? It’s a good thing I’m here to show you how.”

I soon discovered what “swimming to Baltimore” was. A partition separated his closet from the rest of the room, and high up in this partition was a small sort of window. I climbed up to this window and balanced myself on its sill, with my feet dangling in the closet and the upper half of my body in the room. Then I started “swimming, ” doing the crawl or the breast stroke at his command. One can imagine what this soon began to do to my stomach and abdominal muscles, which were supporting my entire weight on the sill. At length, I found it exceedingly hard to breathe. He finally let me down. The study hour bell rang, so he finished off the evening by beating me with a wooden shower slipper, which is widely used for that purpose.

“ I’m not through with you, ” he told me before I left. “Come back tomorrow night.”

Some may think, “Oh well, they’re just hotheaded boys, after all. They’ll change when they grow up and mature.” But this first classman wore on his drill shirt four campaign ribbons, one of which was the American Defense Ribbon with the metal “A” attachment. Thus, a simple calculation shows that he was serving in the Navy on the pre-war Atlantic submarine patrol while I was still in the ninth grade. He was between five and seven years my senior. He was a fully grown adult.

I was fortunate. Very little of this sort of thing went on in my own company. Friends of mine in other companies, however, were subjected to it nearly every night of their plebe year, real or fancied offenses of the plebes providing the excuse for the “treatment.” If a first classman caught a plebe in some minor breach of the regulations, such as turning his head in ranks or failing to run up the steps, he would often have him “come around” to his room. If the plebe failed to “come around,” he would not only find himself placed on report for his offense, but he would also find that the other first classmen in the company would be reporting him at every opportunity. It would soon be known by all the first classmen in his company that he had failed to “come around” — that he was an “upstart” and needed some “treatment.” His room might often be inspected by first classmen who were on watch while he was in class, and since there is no such t hing as a spotless room, he would be reported for having a “dirty” room. In a like manner, he could be reported for wearing a “dirty” uniform at formation.

The extra duty would pile up, and the demerits on his record would mount. In short, he would find himself caught up in a bewildering web from which there was no escape. It is the first classman’s option of reporting delinquent underclassmen that puts the teeth into the plebe system. The First Class Midshipman Commander of our Battalion once said, at a meeting of the Battalion’s plebes which he called at the beginning of the year, “This is a vicious system in which you obey. ” And he was right.

The Academy’s regulations against hazing are down in black and white in the official Naval Academy Regulation Book, but, for obvious reasons, no plebe ever tells. And unless the plebe tells, no one will ever know of each individual incident. In all the time I was at the Academy, no upperclassman was ever reported for hazing.

Many other phases of the plebing, such as the indoctrination which is carried on in the mess hall, while not strictly “hazing,” are nonetheless often harder to take than any hazing. Plebing is scientific and systematic humiliation; and to my knowledge, nothing beneficial has ever been accomplished by purposeless humiliation.

The Academy officers know perfectly well what goes on. They graduated from the Academy themselves. “I couldn’t sit down all during my plebe year,” Captain Ebert, Assistant to the Commandant, told me when he discussed my resignation with me. And still the system flourishes under the tacit protection of the Executive Department.

4

IN my statement, I had included only a brief paragraph on the Naval Academy’s instruction program; I felt that its shortcomings were too well known in Academy circles to need any elaboration on my part. However, since my resignation, I have discovered that my civilian friends had no conception of the inadequacies of the Annapolis academic system.

The Academy handles its academic affairs in a strange way. At the beginning of the year, the midshipmen are issued printed assignment sheets in every subject. These assignment sheets cover the full semester’s lessons, number by number, day by day. I recall my plebe year chemistry assignment sheet, which even gave the assignments inch by inch on the page, to the nearest tenth of an inch! Thus, a typical assignment read, “ Week of 7-13 November, First Assignment Number 23, Page 167, 1.2 inches to 3.4 inches: 3.0 inches to 4.2 inches: Page 169, 2.5 inches to 3.6 inches: Page 173, 1.1 inches to 1.5 inches; 3.0 inches to 3.6 inches, ” and so on. A man whose ruler was scaled in sixteenths instead of tenths wouldn’t have a chance!

Every day, every man in the brigade studies exactly the subject matter covered by a set of numbers on the assignment sheet. It doesn’t matter if there wasn’t sufficient time in class to cover yesterday’s work. He studies today’s work.

The result of such a system is only too obvious. One lives a life of “day-tight compartments,” on a scale from which the originator of the phrase, Sir William Osler, would have shrunk in horror. It doesn’t matter what happened yesterday. They are no longer taking grades on that. It doesn’t matter what will happen tomorrow. They’re not taking grades on that yet. As soon as one day’s work is finished, the midshipman pushes it completely out of his mind and resurrects it again only at the end of the course, if it is necessary to know it in order to get through the last of a long series of tests.

This is a deathblow to any comprehension of the theory underlying the work. One goes through the Academy’s mathematics courses gaining, not a cumulative understanding of what he is doing, but only an increasing proficiency in the mechanics of juggling the figures according to the rules of the game. A computing machine would have no trouble with an Academy math course. It doesn’t have to understand anything. It just works.

The daily test grades determine a midshipman’s mark. The determination of his final grade for the course is a simple job of adding. Teachers are changed every month in every subject, and no teacher knows his students. Like some fantastic Rube Goldberg machine, the great intellectual mill grinds on. A grade of 4.00 is 100 per cent. If a man’s grades add up to 2.50, he passes. If they add up to 2.49, he fails.

A midshipman, it is said, is a gentleman by Act of Congress, but the Department of English, History, and Government sees to it that he is a gentleman on his own hook. Every midshipman, fourth class, gets a course in what might aptly be called refinement by cerebral osmosis. He receives a gigantic book and a handsomely printed assignment sheet, and proceeds to spend a semester on “World Literature.” On the fourth of February he reads a part of The Iliad and on the thirteenth of May he finishes with The Hairy Ape. During this time each midshipman memorizes several prescribed selections of poetry. (I recall a classmate who gave a flawless rendition of the required selection from Tennyson’s “Ulysses,” and then named Browning as its author.)

The daily tests were the crowning touch. I recall vividly one of the ten questions which were given to test our comprehension of King Lear. “Whose bed,” asked the Lieutenant Commander who happened to be our instructor for that month, “had a quote sated warmth unquote?” It was on questions such as this that our understanding and appreciation of world literature were determined.

5

I NEVER took the Academy’s leadership course — it is given during second-class year. The textbook is a rather slim volume with a green cover entitled “Leadership in the New Age —How to Succeed!” (The exclamation point is not mine.) Every day the second classman consults his printed assignment sheet and reads some pages from this book. He then goes to class and takes the daily test of subjective questions on what the text contained. If he can’t recall what the book said about these questions, he is simply not a leader on that particular day. Thus, leadership theory is taught by a system of daily tests, and leadership practice is taught by the system of upper-class indoctrination of the helpless plebes.

There is a library on the Academy grounds, but its purpose remains a mystery. No course at the Academy requires any kind of individual research. No library work of any description is necessary. A man can go through the entire four-year course without having the faintest idea of what the inside of the library looks like. The midshipman’s time is so well accounted for that time spent in the library is almost always time that has been borrowed from another — and, in the Academy’s viewpoint, a more pressing— task.

At one time the library was open during evening study hour, but of the three thousand men in the brigade, only two or three visited it at this time. Many a night no one signed out for the library. The practice was therefore discontinued shortly after its inauguration.

This does not speak so poorly for the midshipmen as one might think, for everybody needs every minute of the evening study hour to memorize the next day’s work. But let us assume that one had a spare hour at the time the library was open, and that he desired to go there. He would first have to “sign out” on the blackboard on his deck. Next he would have to go down to his Battalion Office and sign out there. Then he would go up to the main office and sign out there. Then he could go to the library. On his way back, he would have to reverse the procedure. If he missed any of the six steps along the way, he would be placed on report and would receive ten demerits and three hours of extra duty, which would rob him of all his spare time for the better part of a week. If a man had some extra time during study hour, it didn’t pay him to go to the library. It paid him to lie down and get a little sorely needed sleep.

The assignment of men who were surely fine command officers to posts in the academic department, where their lack of real knowledge of their subject is only too painfully obvious, is one of the most serious failings of the academic program. Often an officer who has been out of the Academy for fifteen or twenty years is assigned a “tour of duty" at the Academy, to teach a subject that he has completely forgotten.

This situation is not only an injustice to the midshipmen, but it is a strange sort of indignity to visit upon the officers, who have acquitted themselves so well at posts of command, only to be assigned positions in which they inevitably made themselves appear very foolish.

The advent of Rear Admiral J. L. Holloway to the superintendentship of the Academy on January 15, 1947, is popularly supposed to presage an academic reform. I hope it will. But to the best of my knowledge, no basic changes have yet been made.

6

I SUBMITTED my statement on Monday morning, January 6. I supposed that Commander Hathaway, my Battalion Officer, would call me in that morning for an interview, as is the usual procedure in the case of resignations.

Monday morning passed. No word. Monday afternoon passed. Tuesday morning passed. From the Battalion Office, absolute silence.

Tuesday afternoon, during the seventh period study hour, my room door opened, and in walked an ensign whom I had never seen before. He introduced himself as Ensign Walt Kristage, Class of ‘47 (which graduated in June, 1946, on the accelerated wartime schedule), and he said that he had just “reported aboard” as the new assistant crew coach. He had reported to Captain Estabrook, the Executive Officer of the Academy, that afternoon. He had found Captain Estabrook reading my statement. Captain Estabrook had handed him the statement and asked him, “Do you think this is true?” Ensign Kristage had read it, and had expressed the opinion that it was strong but that there was unquestionably a good deal of truth in it.

I talked to Ensign Kristage for the remainder of the study hour. I am still not sure of the exact nature of his mission, and I don’t think that he knew either. Captain Estabrook had sent him up to “talk” to me.

Wednesday afternoon I received the message, “Report to Captain Estabrook after classes today. ” After classes I reported to him in his office.

“I’m busy now,” he said. “I’ll call you in tomorrow.”

Thursday passed, and Friday, and Saturday, and Sunday. Monday morning I decided that I had waited long enough. I went down to his office and found him busy with some papers.

“Sir,” I asked, “what has become of my resignation? ”

“Oh yes,” he said. “Sit down.”

The interview got off to a bad start.

“As far as I can ascertain,”Captain Estabrook began, “the only reason for submitting a statement of the type that you have is to drum up an argument merely for the sake of arguing.”

Now, I was really unprepared for anything quite so obtuse as that. He asked me many questions which I felt were well covered in my statement. At one point he said, “How would you abolish the plebe system?”

“If I were in your position,” I said, “I would do it by signing my name to an order to that effect.”

“How would you enforce it?”

“The same way that all Naval Academy regulations are enforced.”

“But,” he objected, “even under the present setup, it is quite impossible to obtain complete compliance with any regulation.”

“Is that,” I asked him, “any reason for not having regulations? Does the fact that it is impossible to enforce completely regulations on drunkenness render it necessary to strike such regulations from the books? If you were to take such a view, you’d have to abolish every regulation.”

The interview, unfortunately, was not very profitable for either of us.

The next day I received another message. This one said “Report to Captain Ebert immediately.” I had hoped for an interview with Captain Ebert, the Assistant to the Commandant, who appears to be an exceptionally capable officer.

My interview with Captain Ebert lasted for an hour and a quarter, and it brought to light several points that I had not touched upon directly in my statement. Captain Ebert is writing a book on leadership, and at the beginning of the interview he asked me to read a few pages of his manuscript which dealt with courage. The pages were not an argument for the plebe system as an instrument for teaching courage, but the implication was obvious. On the surface, it appears to be a good point, and yet it will not stand up under close scrutiny; for it is an inescapable truth that the Academy present program produces a large percentage of “system beaters” and I can discover nothing that is courageous or morally commendable in system-beating. The pages of Captain Ebert’s manuscript which I read spoke of several great contemporary naval leaders whose success is surely due, among other things, to their courage. But if the Navy assumes the credit for endowing these men with courage, it is certainly assuming too much. I personally am persuaded that, no matter which profession a man chooses, he will need courage of a high order to succeed. All life requires courage. Our great naval officers of today, had they chosen some other profession, would have pursued it with the same resoluteness and courage that they have demonstrated in their present profession.

Captain Ebert brought up another interesting point. Every year, he said, the Navy is able to put its finger on seven or eight men who are unfit to command. How? By observing their improper exercise of their authority over the plebes. The fallaciousness of this reasoning is almost too evident to merit discussion. Taking the Navy’s own admission at its face value, we need merely point to these seven or eight men a year that the Navy is able to recognize and label. My answer to the Navy is, You are creating this problem yourself. And if this be one of the purposes of the plebe year, then just consider how many hundreds of thick skins you create each year in order to catch these seven or eight. So you caught eight! I could name you eight in my own company who have been so thoroughly “indoctrinated ” that they show themselves, in their relations with their juniors and their seniors, to be utterly despicable in every way And there are twenty-four companies! The fact remains that no man, upon first entering the Naval Academy, could ever conceive of behaving in such a manner toward his fellows and associates as many a first classman does with no qualm, no compunction, and with the full approval of the authorities.

The thing is ugly. The Navy opens wide the gates of malice and self-importance to the upperclassmen — nay, persuades them that it is their duty and obligation to enter — and then drops the axe, systematically and annually, upon seven or eight of the many heads that accept the invitation. Even those who escape the axe will find, as officers, that success in the handling of men will require a complete revision of the concepts upon which the plebe system is based.

I had, of course, expected some sort of “official reaction” to my statement from the Academy officers through whose hands it passed. But there was a reaction from another quarter that I could not have foreseen. In some way, word of my statement seemed to pass through the entire brigade. Dozens of strangers came into my room and asked me if I had a copy of it that they could read. I had no copy; but a week after I submitted it I obtained my original statement from the Chief Clerk, who had typed copies of it for official use. I put it on my desk, and there it remained until I left the Academy. At all hours of the day, friends and strangers alike came in to read it.

“It expresses,” I was told over and over again, “exactly what I’ve always felt, but I’ve never been able to put it in words.”

“Mimeograph the damned thing,” remarked the company’s leisurely cynic, “and we’ll all use it to resign!”

Another friend asked if he could make a copy of the statement.

“I want to send it home,” he said. “My parents want me to stay. They don’t understand.”

Thereafter the “copying campaign” began. I have no idea how many copies of my statement were made, but several times, when I was with groups of midshipmen who didn’t know me, I was shown copies of my own statement and told to read it.

One day a stranger came in, read my statement, and said to me, “Why don’t you have this published?”

“Even supposing that I could,” I replied, “what would be the purpose?”

“The purpose?” he echoed. “Why, it’s what, you believe, and it’s what I believe, and it’s what hundreds of decent guys in this place believe ”