Some 1000 Naval Academy freshmen climbed to the top of a 21-foot lard-covered obelisk on Monday afternoon, where they replaced a "dixie cup" hat with a midshipmen's hat, as part of a decades-old tradition.
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The plebes reached the top of the Herndon Monument in 1 hour, 32 minutes and 43 seconds. Tradition -- though not reality -- has it that the first student to the top will earn the rank of admiral from that class.
Patrick Lien, who swapped out this year's caps, told the Capital Gazette that he is not the first member of his family to make the climb:
Lien said he was proud to carry on Herndon climb tradition. His father climbed the monument with the Class of 1981. Covered in sweat and lard, Lien said he had no expectation he'd be the one to top the monument. At one point, he sat out for a little bit, he said, to get some perspective. Then he made his move.
“It just kind of happened,” Lien said. “I'm speechless, to be honest... I don't think (my dad's) going to believe me.”
“In there it’s really wet, it’s really sweaty, it’s really slippery,” Midshipman Rachel Bailey told WJLA.
Correction: An earlier version of this article referred to the freshmen as "plebs" rather than "plebes," which will teach certain writers not to publish stories after 9 p.m.