I love the Navy fight song. Some of my fondest memories are of my classmates and me shouting “Drink to the foam!” at the top of our lungs as the Drum and Bugle Corps capped a Naval Academy touchdown with that familiar tune. More than a decade on, I still smile whenever I hear it playing in Annapolis.
The three simple stanzas of “Anchors Aweigh” capture the timeless fighting spirit of the Navy. When we weigh anchor, we let slip our connection to land and brave the restless waves. We stand out to sea in answer to that call to serve. Faithful, courageous, and fiercely loyal to one another, we honor our nation, our shipmates, and the unbroken chain of our distinguished forebears.
But just as sea states change, so does the Navy. To honor the service and dedication of all sailors, our fight song needs to be modernized.
In 2020, the Air Force updated its song “to better capture and represent the valor and heritage” of the service “while also recognizing the diversity and contributions of today’s Total Force regardless of gender.” The Air Force revised the male-only references. Then–Air Force Chief of Staff General David L. Goldfein remarked: “These new lyrics speak more accurately to all we do, all that we are, and all that we strive to be as a profession of arms. They add proper respect and recognition to everyone who serves and who has served.”1
Like the Air Force, the Navy’s long history is filled with valorous and distinguished women whose contributions to the nation deserve to be represented equally. From the “Sacred Twenty” appointed to the Nurse Corps in 1908 to the first woman to complete Navy special warfare training in 2021, women have come to serve in every job specialty in the Navy. In 1943, the first woman was assigned to a ship. In 1974, the Navy winged its first female pilot. In 1976, the first female midshipmen entered the Naval Academy. In 1979, the first woman earned her surface warfare officer qualification. In 2010, my classmates became the first women to serve on submarines—one of whom just returned from her first mission to the International Space Station. And in 2016, the Navy’s first female four-star admiral took command of all U.S. naval forces in Europe and Africa.
By changing the fight song lyrics from “my boys” to “sailors,” the Navy can join the Air Force in respectfully recognizing the contributions of these women while honoring the heritage of all who have served.
1. Charles Pope, “Final Changes to Air Force Song Announced,” Air Force Public Affairs news release, 29 May 2020.