When I showed up at the Naval Academy, the first thing they did after shaving my head was to teach me to march. Over the next four years as a Midshipman, I marched in countless parades, generally a couple every week. Like every other Midshipman to pass through the gates of Annapolis, I hated it. They are a lot of work to rehearse, don’t do anything for morale, and are expensive in terms both of time and preparation.

Every time there was a parade scheduled, the entire Brigade of Midshipmen literally prayed to the rain gods to send a downpour and thus cancel the parade. And those were for relatively simple parades of 4,000 Midshipman who were already living within a five-minute march of the parade field — no missiles, tanks, trucks or jet aircraft being towed around. I thought after I was commissioned I had left serious marching behind, and I was glad to do so.