On The Yard


    USNA Memorial Hall: A Treasure of the Past, Present and Future

    By Bill the Goat on February 20, 2024

    USNA Memorial Hall: A Treasure of the Past, Present and Future

    [Revamped for 2024]

    The Naval Academy Memorial Hall is a sacred space that inspires true awe. Designed to honor all Naval Academy graduates who perished serving our country, it is a beautiful U.S. Navy memorial to these men and women, full of inspiring stories and gratitude. When you enter, you can’t help but breathe the history, the reverence, and the pride of the Navy and Marine Corps.

    The Power of Architecture

    Designed as a Bancroft Hall focal point and dedicated in 1909, this expansive room showcases classic Naval Academy architecture in its beautiful Beaux-Arts design. Over the years, it was used as a dance hall and social space, and fell into some disrepair. In 2003, it was cleaned and restored to its original beauty. The limestone was repointed and the plaster ceiling was repaired. The grand hall now serves as a solemn U.S. Navy memorial, and the stairs leading to it still bear the imprints of the many who have come to pay their respects over the past 100-plus years.

    Memorial Hall has inspired many people, both today and over the course of naval history. Colonel John Ripley, Class of 1962, once breathed, “This is the Sistine Chapel of the Navy. It’s not the same as a chapel, but there’s a deep, deep reverence of dignity, overwhelming dignity that can’t be replicated anywhere.” 

    The Heart of the Naval Academy

    This U.S. Navy memorial features three major areas:

    Class Panels: More than 2,700 alumni who were lost in combat or other military operations are immortalized in granite panels that were added in 2003, listed by name, rank, and military branch.

    Killed in Action Panel: In the center, right under the “Don’t Give Up The Ship” flag, there’s a list of the almost 1,000 alumni killed in combat.

    Medal of Honor Plaque: This plaque memorializes the 73 alumni who earned the Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest and most prestigious military award recognizing acts of valor.

    Additionally, this U.S. Navy memorial pays homage to those who’ve earned the Navy Cross, the Army’s Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, and the Distinguished Flying Cross.

    Then there are the monuments to history. A large replica of the famous “Don’t Give Up the Ship” flag that immortalizes Commodore Perry’s rallying cry at the Battle of Lake Erie anchors the room. A low-lit diorama portrays the bravery shown by then-Captain John Ripley, USMC, at the 1972 Easter Offensive in South Vietnam, called “Ripley at the Bridge.” Another diorama, “Capture of U505,” celebrates the daring and only capture of a German U-boat during WWII, led by Daniel V. Gallery from the Class of 1921. There are many other meaningful paintings, murals and busts — all telling incredible Navy and Marine Corps stories of sacrifice and glory.

    Related: Don’t Give Up the Ship!


    Memorial Hall Today and Tomorrow

    Memorial Hall has also expanded into the digital world, with the Virtual Memorial Hall, an online Naval Academy tour and repository for the thousands of stories collected from around the world today and across naval history. The site invites you to share stories of USNA graduates that have given their lives for our freedom. Not only can you experience their stories, but you can see lists of alumni by month and date of loss, as well as lists of alumni by hometown. It is a moving tribute to these incredible men and women.

    Memorial Hall is open to the public, and we encourage you to visit USNA treasures like this. If you take one of our Naval Academy walking tours, you can spend some time in this special space. Come visit and experience this hallowed hall.


    Book a Tour

    Bill the Goat
    Written by Bill the Goat | February 20, 2024


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