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West Point adopts gender-neutral song lyrics

Jun. 4, 2008 - 03:27PM   |   Last Updated: Jun. 4, 2008 - 03:27PM  |  
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WEST POINT, N.Y. The U.S. Military Academy will now honor its daughters as well as its sons in two of its beloved songs.

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WEST POINT, N.Y. The U.S. Military Academy will now honor its daughters as well as its sons in two of its beloved songs.

Gender-neutral lyrics were incorporated into West Point's "Alma Mater" and "The Corps" replacing lines like "The men of the Corps" with "The ranks of the Corps."

West Point officials made the change after attending funerals for female graduates killed in combat and listening to the line "guide us, thy sons" being sung. The new lyrics read "guide us thine own."

The songs were written about a century ago, long before the first female cadets joined the Long Gray Line in 1976. But Superintendent Lt. Gen. Franklin "Buster" Hagenbeck said that while 600 current cadets and 3,000 total graduates are women, the symbolically important songs contained words that explicitly excluded them.

"As we are relearning on distant battlefields, symbols and words are important," Hagenbeck said in a prepared release.

Hagenbeck spent months discussing the possible changes with alumni, Army brass and cadets. He dismissed the notion that changing the lyrics destroys any traditions at this history-drenched institution on the Hudson River.

"As leaders of character, do we expect our cadets or graduates to condone exclusion of women? No," Hagenbeck said. "We clearly expect them to do the right thing."

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