EIC Note

A Momentous Occasion

Bravo Zulu to the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 2021

“We persevere.” These were the words the 63rd Superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy, Vice Admiral Sean Buck, proudly said of the Class of 2021 during his address at their USNA Graduation and Commissioning Ceremony on Friday, May 28. The graduation season was upon us in a big way this year—possibly with more anticipation than ever seen in the past. After last year’s graduates were sadly robbed by COVID-19’s global interruption, it was time to celebrate, and this momentous occasion was no exception at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland.

Lisa Marie Burwell and 2nd Lt. Ryan Duffey

I was invited to watch my nephew Ryan Duffey’s graduation and commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. With a robust week-long schedule of activities and parties, it would be an understatement to say the Naval Academy puts on a good show and celebrates in style. I beamed with pride alongside Ryan’s parents—my sister Marianne and her husband, Tom—and our other family members who were able to attend.

Vice Admiral Sean Buck with USNA 2021 graduates 2nd Lt. Stephen Thompson and 2nd Lt. Ryan Duffey

The two-plus hours it took to fill the stadium seats were full of exhilaration over the forthcoming ceremony. The anticipation was enhanced by the awareness that the Blue Angels would welcome the Class of 2021 with a flyover. And suddenly, out of nowhere, an impressive roar of approaching jets could be heard—seemingly so close I may have slightly ducked my head. The unmistakable blue-and-yellow F/A-18E Super Hornets flying in perfect unison and exacting precision were majesty in the air.

Denise Palumbo, Lisa Burwell, Tom Duffey, 2nd Lt. Ryan Duffey, Marianne Duffey, Laurie Crowley, Amanda Crowley, and Emma Crowley

Vice Admiral Buck moderated the commencement with introductions to the guest speakers, including Vice President Kamala Harris, who became the first woman to speak at a USNA Commencement. She charismatically addressed the class with honesty and conviction about their future service while proudly commending them for getting to this place in their lives. Harris added exuberance to the moment while personally shaking hands with all 1,084 graduating students.

USMC 2nd Lt. Ryan Duffey

Everything is impressive about the Naval Academy—the meticulously manicured grounds, the Beaux-Arts architecture of the campus, the abounding pomp and circumstance, and, most importantly, the very fine young men and women for whom we can all be proud. They have entered into service valiantly to protect and defend our country. I feel confident and comforted resting in the knowledge that we are in the good and capable hands of the amazing, strong, and patriotic graduates we honored that day. They all had much to endure these past four years, but it was particularly hard on them to do so with a global pandemic looming in every corner of their lives.

Lisa with the 2021 seniors of the USNA Midshipmen baseball team

In his closing remarks, Superintendent Buck noted how hard it was for the class to weather the challenges the past year brought to them and the academy, and he thanked them for their courage and tenacity to endure the hardships that they were beset with. You could tell he was genuinely proud of them. He closed with, “Welcome to the fleet,” which was followed by raucous cheering from the graduating class.


To the Class of 2021, Godspeed and God Bless!

To Life!

VIE Magazine Editor In Chief, Lisa Marie Burwell Signature

—Lisa Marie


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