Head of US Military Academy Wants to Drop Male Lyrics in Songs for Gender Neutral Terms

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The head of the U.S. Military Academy thinks it's time to replace the "men" and "sons" in West Point's two most beloved songs with more gender-neutral lyrics.

Lt. Gen. Franklin L. Hagenbeck, superintendent of the nation's oldest military academy, told a congressional oversight committee Wednesday that with more than 3,000 women graduating from West Point since 1976, the change is long overdue.

During a presentation Wednesday to the academy's Board of Visitors meeting in Washington, Hagenbeck said he wants to change the words to the military academy's anthem and its companion piece, "The Corps." Both songs date back about a century.

In "The Corps," the proposals include changing "The men" to "The ranks," and "We sons" to "The Corps."

The superintendent said the changes aren't being pushed by female cadets, but it's a common sense move considering the role women play in today's military.

"When are they going to be recognized for what they're doing?" he said.

Hagenbeck said he got the idea for the revision two years ago at a ceremony commemorating the 30th anniversary of women being admitted to West Point. He listened as the female alumni sang lyrics from the songs that included, "We sons of today, we salute you."

Hagenbeck has spent the last few months discussing the possible changes with alumni, Army brass and cadets. He said he'll make the final decision, possibly after graduation ceremonies on May 31 and before the Class of 2012 arrives this summer.

The academy's Board of Visitors, made up of presidential appointees and members of Congress voted unanimously to back whatever decision he makes. Three New York congressman — John McHugh, Maurice Hinchey and John Hall — are board members.