Color Girl tradition may be drummed out


It just wasn't fitting that the woman who may be the U.S. Naval Academy's last Color Girl helped transfer the brigade flags on the cement floor of a hockey rink instead of the green grass of sun-splashed Worden Field yesterday.

But drenching rains forced the ceremony, a 121-year-old tradition that is on the verge of falling victim to changing sensibilities, inside cavernous Dahlgren Hall and turned it into a pale shadow of its former self.

Instead of the entire brigade of midshipmen stretched out across the field, only the color company was formed at one end of the rink. Instead of a fleet of yawls sailing up and down the Severn River in the background, there were spectators on a balcony surrounding the floor.

And when the brief ceremony ended, no graduating seniors made a mad -- to dive into a nearby fountain. The color company just disbanded to talk to parents and other visitors.

The first Color Girl, chosen by the color company commander, became part of Commissioning Week activities in 1871. But, well, "times have changed and some people think we should re-evaluate the system," explained Commander Mike John, Naval Academy spokesman.

He said a group of officers is studying "several different options" that could change the term "Color Girl" to "Color Honorees" and include especially influential teachers or relatives.

"We should know something by mid-summer," he said.

The Color Girl tradition has concerned academy officials at least since 1980, the first graduating class that included women, he said. "They got to wondering what we'd do if there were a female color company commander."

This year, Charles Andrew McCartney, commander of the 12th Company, chose his fiancee, Amy L. Seiz, of Highland Heights, Ohio.

Seiz, in a long, white gown and wide-brimmed hat, entered the hall on the arm of a Marine private.

She joined her fiancee to transfer the U.S. Flag, the Naval Academy flag, the Marine Corps flag and the Navy flag from the 15th Company's color guard to the 12th Company's, to the cadence of a lone drummer.

Within moments the ceremony was over and she was on her way out of the hall on the arm of the same private.

"When you come all this way, you hope and pray for good weather so you can do this outside," she said later. "So I'm a little disappointed, but it's been fun, anyway."

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