The origin of the Navy’s ‘Anchors Aweigh’
Back in 1906, Navy had not beaten Army on the football field since 1900. Midshipman Alfred A. “Monk” Miles figured the team could use a little musical inspiration. The result was a song that’s every bit as popular today as it was the year it was born.
For 110 years, “Anchors Aweigh” has been a Navy staple.
It was Miles who would write the lyrics to the song, but it was the U.S. Naval Academy’s bandmaster, Lt. Charles A. “Zimmy” Zimmermann, a graduate of Baltimore’s Peabody Conservatory, who would come up with the music. He was approached by Miles, who said his classmates “were eager to have a piece of music that would be inspiring, one with a swing to it so it could be used as a football marching song, and one that would live forever,” according to the Navy’s website.
Legend has it that Zimmerman and Miles worked on the song together at the organ in the Naval Academy chapel in Annapolis.
The 1906 Army-Navy game was to be played Dec. 1. “‘Anchors Aweigh’ (class march of the Class of 1907) … will be sung when the Middies have the ball and are pounding against the Army line,” according to a report in the Dec. 1, 1906, edition of The Baltimore Sun.
(The saying “anchor aweigh” means the anchor is no longer touching the bottom and the ship is officially underway.)
The final score was Navy, 10-0. “The jubulation of the Annapolitans began all over again,” The Sun reported.