Ahoy, Cap’n!

Many parents deny their children sugary cereals on a daily basis.  Perhaps for this reason, the wide variety of cereal available in the dining halls has long been popular among the students, who are no longer under their parents’ watchful eyes.  In February 1983, a couple dozen students protested the lack of Cap’n Crunch, the sugary cereal of choice, during dinner at South Dining Hall.  This spurred Lee Brossard and his sophomore class running mate to make a campaign promise to hold a Cap’n Crunch party if elected.

The Quaker Oats’ mascot Cap’n Crunch meeting a fan at Notre Dame, October 1983

The sophomore class officers initially contacted Quaker Oats for just a few boxes of cereal for their party; however, Quaker Oats was intrigued by the idea.  After some back and forth between Quaker Oats and the Notre Dame Administration, a week-long Cap’n Crunch festival was scheduled, which included a visit by the Cap’n himself, treasure hunts, and cereal eating contests.

Notre Dame Press Release regarding Cap’n Crunch week at Notre Dame, 10/05/1983

A student participating in the Cap’n Crunch eating contest where neatness counted, October 1983.

This was one of the first major corporate-sponsored events at Notre Dame.  Notre Dame is often approached by corporations to hold such events and the administration often denies such attempts.  Crunch Fest became a reality because the students were so enthusiastic about the idea.  This particular event itself was reigned in a bit as Fr. John Van Wolvlear, President of Student Affairs, eliminated Quaker Oats’ original idea to have the Cap’n bid the students farewell from a boat-shaped float in the Stadium during the USC game.  No events were scheduled for that Saturday home football game day, nor was the Stadium a venue for any part of Crunch Fest.

Wall Street Journal newspaper article regarding the 1983 student protest over the lack of Cap’n Crunch cereal in South Dining Hall; published in Parade magazine, 01/29/1984

Observer, Fall 1983
UDIS 81/10

Martin Luther King Jr. at Notre Dame

Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking in Stepan Center at Notre Dame, October 18, 1963

On October 18, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at Notre Dame’s Stepan Center.  The South Bend Citizens’ Civic Planning Committee organized the event, which was  a fund-raiser for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).  Full-capacity was expected, with faculty, students, and community members in the audience.

King spoke of the problems of segregation, discrimination, and the civil right movement.  He also talked of similar issues throughout the world — “The world has shrunk into a neighborhood — now we must make it a brotherhood or we will die together as fools.” [Scholastic, October 25, 1963, page 13]

To see video of this speech, contact the Audio/Visual Archivist.

Scholastic, October 1963

Patriot of the Year Award

For over 120 years, Notre Dame celebrated George Washington’s Birthday with theatrical and musical presentations (more about that in a future post).  In 1954, the University created the Patriot of the Year Award to honor a public figure “who exemplifies the American ideals of justice, personal integrity and service to country” [Scholastic, 02/12/1954, page 10].

The senior class voted from a number of candidates and the honoree would address the students and faculty at the Washington Day Exercises.  FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was named the first Patriot of the Year.  Others that followed included Bishop Fulton Sheen, Senator John F. Kennedy, Vice President Richard Nixon, Comedian Bob Hop, Lt. Col. John Glenn, and Sargent Shriver.  In 1967 the candidates were Leonard Bernstein, J. William Fullbright, Chet Huntley/David Brinkley, Martin Luther King Jr., John Kenneth Galbraith, Carl Sandburg, Earl Warren, Arthur Goldberg, and Louis Armstrong, with Gen. William Westmoreland winning the nomination.

The Washington Day Exercises fizzled out around 1970 along with the Patriot of the Year Award, ending a long-beloved tradition at Notre Dame.

Tickets and press credentials for the Washington Day Exercises, 1960-1964

Senator John F. Kennedy receiving the Patriot of the Year Award from Senior Class President George Strake at the Washington Day Exercises, February 1957.

Vice President Richard Nixon receiving the Patriot of the Year Award from Senior Class President Richard Corbett, with Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, CSC, 02/23/1960.
Nixon’s Notre Dame speech on patriotism was printed and distributed at the
1960 Republican Convention.

Comedian Bob Hope receiving the Patriot of the Year Award from Senior Class President Earl Linhan at the Washington Day Exercises in the Fieldhouse, 02/27/1962.
Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, CSC, is also on stage.

Program cover from the 1965 Washington Day Exercises and Patriot of the Year Award Ceremony.  R. Sargent Shirver Jr. received the award this year.


UDIS 73/14
GDIS 05/Kennedy
GPOR 12/08
GPHR 45/4332

See also the list of Patriot of the Year Award recipients