“The red and yellow ribbon is a first award service ribbon. It means we joined the Navy in a time of war.”
Rodney Hahn, Jennifer Hedgecoth, and John Campbell are college freshmen—class of 2018— but they’re more aptly referred to as midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy: officers-in-training. They’re originally from Missouri, Tennessee, and Texas respectively. Almost reflexively, they put their arms around each other when I asked to take their picture, but at the last moment, they chose a more traditional stance with hands clasped and chests up, with just their youthful smiles hinting at their age.
Standing at six-foot-six, John, on the right, kept screwing and unscrewing the cap of his Sprite bottle in a nervous motion. He’s a thrower on the Naval Academy’s Track and Field team, and he was the team captain of his high school’s football team in 2012.
Jennifer, in the center, told me that the people are the best part of the Naval Academy. Although she quietly pointed out, with just a hint of poignancy, that the Academy is only 16% women. She too runs Track and Field for the Academy.
Rodney Hahn, on the left, was a four-time Missouri High School champion wrestler, and he is one of just four wrestlers to go undefeated during his athletic career (149-0). The Missourian is the first to accomplish such a feat since 1995.
The trio came to the National Mall only for the afternoon, to ice skate together at the National Gallery of Art Ice Rink as a way to de-stress. I left them surrounded by families with children waddling about in puffy coats, and tourists greedily sipping at hot cocoa; the three friends blended into the prosaic American winter wonderland— and did so extraordinarily.
Photo: Caitlin Joelle Cain/The Georgetown Voice