Not self, but country

 When Whitney Macaulay was a boy playing with his toy aircraft carrier and dreaming of being aboard his own ship, he surely didn't imagine these prerequisites.

Awake with his bed made by 6:30 a.m. Ninety-degree turns at every corner. Knowing 120 of the upperclassmen in his group by name.

The 2008 Sequim High graduate grins a bit. With a few days away from Annapolis, Md., where Macaulay attends the United States Naval Academy, he can afford some levity.

Back in Sequim for a stint between his second and third academic years at the academy, Macaulay reflects on what's been an education he'll not likely forget.

"You're pretty small," he says. "You get out there and you feel pretty small at first. But you don't complain about it."

Strict code of conduct

Founded in 1845, the U.S. Naval Academy is a coed, four-year institution. Known for its academic and physical education rigor, the academy boasts impressive alumni including one president (Jimmy Carter), two Nobel Prize winners, 22 members of Congress and 52 astronauts.

First-year students don't get many privileges, Macaulay says. In fact, the code is fairly strict. Besides the out-of-bed at the relatively early hour, newbies are required to study from 8-11 a.m., have little to no interaction with personal entertainment (no music or movies and the youtube website is banned), and are to be in bed by 10 p.m.

Oh, and there's the memorization of names, the news and sports scores, or "any information we might be asked," Macaulay says.

"Memorization is very important in the Navy," he says, explaining that in the process of doing what Navy personnel do, it all has to be done in strict order, often under pressure. Don't have it memorized, and one can make a situation worse.

"It does serve a purpose," Macaulay says.

Entering his third year, Macaulay and other upperclassmen do get more privileges - such as wearing civilian clothes on liberty (leave, or time off) and owning a car in town - and have less of the structure in their days.

"I'm happy there," the 20-year-old says. "I'll be glad to go back."

Reflecting on Sequim

Back in Sequim, Macaulay took time to visit with old friends, get out on a boat and join in one of the final legs of a 100-mile hike with his old Boy Scouts troop.

He's had time to look around at all the changes that have come to Sequim, a place he's called home for more than a decade.

"I see (Sequim) grow up; I find myself wishing it was the way it was," Macaulay says.

Seeing friends who've stayed in Sequim rather than attend college out of the area, this Sequim graduate insists that none of his classmates, collegian or service member or other, is better than any other.

"This," he says about the U.S. Navy, "is what's right for me."

That decision goes way back to his childhood playing with a toy aircraft carrier. He still wants to be behind the wheel of a Navy boat, only a smaller boat like a destroyer or frigate.

"Somebody told me you have to go to a special academy (to do that)," Macaulay recalls. "I guess that's the academy."

Reach Michael Dashiell at

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