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Jimmy Carter is the only president to graduate from the Naval Academy. Why isn’t there a building named after him?

There is a simple answer to why nothing at the Naval Academy is named after the only president to graduate from it.

President Jimmy Carter is still alive.

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Naval facilities, which include buildings and rooms, streets and other structures, must be named after deceased Naval personnel except in rare circumstances, according to an October 2017 document from the Office of Chief of Naval Operations.

Naval infrastructure may also be named after non-Naval personnel in unusual situations.

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The Naval operations document lays out how certain buildings, like unaccompanied officer housing, should be named. It also lays out the process for how buildings can be named.

Lieutenant James Earl Carter Jr., USN, 39th American President. President James Earl "Jimmy" Carter graduated from the Naval Academy in 1946 with distinction, after which he was assigned to USS Wyoming (E-AG 17) as an ensign.
Lieutenant James Earl Carter Jr., USN, 39th American President. President James Earl "Jimmy" Carter graduated from the Naval Academy in 1946 with distinction, after which he was assigned to USS Wyoming (E-AG 17) as an ensign. (Courtesy Naval History and Heritage Command)

While Carter’s name is likely not to appear on a Naval Academy or Naval building while he is alive — the submarine USS Jimmy Carter is named after the president, the only submarine and one of three ships to be named after a living person — his name could potentially appear on academy buildings in the future.

The Naval Academy could have to rename two buildings, Maury Hall and Buchanan House, due to their affiliations with the Confederacy. The National Defense Authorization Act set up a commission for identifying buildings that will need to be renamed due to connections to the Confederacy.

The NDAA gave the commission three years. If Carter were to die, there is a chance his name could be floated to replace any buildings at the academy the commission deems necessary.

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Upon his death, his name could also be used for any buildings that are built at the academy or that will be renamed. Buildings at the Naval Academy have been renamed in the past. Larson Hall was formerly known as the Administration Building. The facility was named in honor of a former academy superintendent.

A spokesperson for the Carter Center declined to comment on if Carter would like a building at the academy named after him.

Carter attended the Naval Academy from 1943 to 1946, graduating a year early due to an accelerated wartime program, according to the academy. He was honorably discharged from the Navy in 1953.

Carter, 96, is the only president to have attended the Naval Academy. He was also the second graduate to have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. He visited Annapolis in 1996 for his 50th reunion.

1996 - Former Pres. Jimmy Carter addresses his USNA Class of `47 classmates during a memorial service at USNA Chapel.
1996 - Former Pres. Jimmy Carter addresses his USNA Class of `47 classmates during a memorial service at USNA Chapel. (Capital Gazette File Photo)

If Maury Hall and Buchanan House, or any other building, were to be renamed or if the academy constructs a new one, the nominations for names would be sent to the chief of Naval Operations, according to the 2017 document.

Nominations must include a list of facilities that are already named after the person or a statement of fact if no buildings bear their name.

The chief of Naval Operations approves or disapproves the nomination. If a nomination is approved, next of kin are notified and a dedication ceremony is held.

Naval Academy June Week 1978 (L to R) Mrs. Carter, Senator Mathias, President Carter, and Adm. Kinnard McKee, Supt. Naval Academy.
Naval Academy June Week 1978 (L to R) Mrs. Carter, Senator Mathias, President Carter, and Adm. Kinnard McKee, Supt. Naval Academy. (Baltimore Sun Media File Photo/Check with Baltimore Sun Photo)

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