On the 40th anniversary of women being accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy, this year's incoming class has the largest number of women enrolled in the academy.
Starting at 6 a.m. on Thursday, more than 1,100 freshmen began their life at the academy with Induction Day. Throughout the day, the sailors-in-training received uniforms and haircuts, completed medical exams and learned to salute.
In the evening, they will take the Oath of Office and the plebes' family members will say goodbye. They won't see them again until Plebe Parents Weekend in August.
In July 1976, class of 1980 had 55 female plebes, who were the first group of women to be enrolled at the academy. The 2020 class includes 331 women, 19 of which are daughters of academy alumni.
As Marlee Lane of Milwaukee stood in line with the other freshmen Thursday morning, she couldn't help being nervous. Being in the academy, she said, was something she has worked toward since she was a little girl.
Lane's brother serves in the Coast Guard and her three of grandparents also served in the military. Seeing their act of service, she said, inspired her to apply to the academy. Being in the military felt natural.
"Serving my country, to me, means giving up what I have for others," she said.
She was, however, nervous about all those push-ups.
Lindsay Arvin of Memphis also planned on joining the military at a young age. She chose the academy because of its structure and high level of education.
"It's an honor to just be here," she said.
The 40th anniversary of female midshipmen makes Thursday "even more perfect," said Kate Vanzanten, whose daughter Katie Barrett is an incoming freshman.
When Barrett was close to finishing high school, she joined the ROTC, enlisted into the military and applied to the academy as way of "hedging" her way into the military, her mother said.
Around 9:30 a.m., Barrett was one of a dozen sailors-in-training who waited to begin their I-Day outside. When the officer yelled for the future plebes to get in a single line, Vanzanten grabbed her daughter for a final hug.
"Mom, you're embarrassing me," Barrett sighed, as her mom snapped one last picture.
The incoming freshman then shuffled along with her peers, who quickly walked into Alumni Hall.
"Go get 'em, Barrett," Vanzanten yelled behind her.