ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)—Four years of hard work and discipline pay off for a thousand young men and women. It’s graduation day at the Naval Academy.

Jessica Kartalija reports from Annapolis on the send-off.

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It’s the day they’ve been waiting for.

“So much anticipation right now, excitement to finally graduate,” said one Naval Academy graduate.

“It’s been a good four years,” said another. “And it’s nice to move on. That’s the next big thing.”

With the Blue Angels on standdown, the flyover was performed by a squadron out of Virginia.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, preparing to retire, was the commencement speaker.

“By your service, you will have a chance to leave your mark on history,” Gates said.

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Gates talked about being leaders in American society.

“In everything you do, you must always make sure you live up to the highest personal and professional standards of duty, service and honor,” Gates said. “The values of the Navy, the values of the American Armed Forces, the values of the best traditions of our country.”

On Friday, 1,006 students graduated from the academy, becoming commissioned officers in the Marines and the Navy.

The class gave a standing ovation to an honorary graduate who died of a heart condition in 2008.

Then it was the moment they have been waiting for.

“Hip hip, hooray,” the graduates screamed as they threw their caps in the air.

“It’s unbelievable,” said one graduate. “It’s indescribable.”

In that split second that hats go in the air, hundreds of graduates charge the field hoping to get their hands on one of 33,000 people in attendance at the graduation commissioning ceremony.

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Friday’s graduation ceremony was the 161st at the Naval Academy.