Washington D.C. contains countless opportunities to explore the nation’s history and art on every block. However, about 30 minutes away is the United States Naval Academy (USNA) in Annapolis, Maryland, one school I am seriously planning to attend after I graduate high school.

As the capital of Maryland, Annapolis is full of American naval history and also a marvelously beautiful place to live and sail.

In May I went to visit my brother, who is a second-year midshipman in the Academy. I walked past several museums in Washington D.C. and thought, “I wish I had the time to see these.”

So I decided to go there with my parents for fall break as my own personal senior fall vacation. Additionally, because my brother had offered us to see the Navy-Air Force game at USNA, we bought tickets as quickly as possible to see him and his friends.

At first I was unsure about taking a day away from our museum visits, but I lucked out, as the experience was unforgettable. I had no idea about the experience I was about to have at the game.

We arrived in D.C. and then drove to the academy the next day. It was my first time visiting the academy since my decision to apply, and I fortunately had the chance to talk about my application and the freshman experience with some of my brother’s friends on campus.

Then my parents and I attended a tailgate to talk about the application experience with parents of some other midshipmen. The joyful and easygoing nature of the tailgate helped soothe some of my anxiety about the academy. USNA is well known for its grueling experiences, especially during freshman year.

Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer was featured for the coin toss prior to kickoff. The game then went back and forth for the next few hours before Navy scored two touchdowns in the final seconds of the game to beat Air Force. The entire fleet of midshipmen even stormed the field after the game was over to celebrate with the team!

Prior to that experience, the only football games I had actually enjoyed watching were at Tullahoma when I help lead the Tullahoma High School Marine Corps Junior ROTC 12th Man Team. However, my love for the armed forces and their service academies, the heightened excitement among the fans and the literal last second win for Navy gave me an experience I could never forget, capping the day as the best part of my senior fall break.