Naval Academy Plebe Ritual Made Easier, Safer

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A 70-year-old tradition may be coming to an end at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Freshmen at the academy celebrate the end of their plebe year by scaling a 21-foot campus monument. The ritual is known as the Herndon Climb and it symbolizes the end of a grueling first year.

Classmates work together to reach the top of the obelisk which is normally covered in lard. But this year, the academy did not grease the monument due to safety concerns. There's also talk that the yearly ritual could be cancelled altogether.

Older students and alumni have not been pleased with the academy's announcement.

"They should grease it, though, make it a lot harder," Midshipman Keegan Albi, of Eugene, Ore., said.

"I would love to see it continue," John Truesdell, of Tucson, Ariz., said. "I think it's such a big part of the tradition at the academy."

When the monument is covered in grease, the climb can take several hours. This year, members of the freshmen class reached the top in about two minutes.

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