(Soundbite of choir singing "Alma Mater")

GUY RAZ, host:

The West Point choir singing "Alma Mater." The Academy's anthem, written by Cadet Paul Reinecke in 1911.

(Soundbite of choir singing "Alma Mater")

Unidentified Woman: (Singing) ...through all the years...

RAZ: Tradition runs deep at the academy but one may soon be abandoned, and the idea came during a funeral. West Point's commandante, Lieutenant General James Hagenbeck was mourning the death of a cadet, a woman. She was killed in Iraq.

(Soundbite of choir singing "Alma Mater")

Unidentified Woman: (Singing) Guide us, thy sons, all right...

RAZ: Guide us, thy sons, all right. As the choir sang those words during the funeral for a fallen daughter, General Hagenbeck decided the language had to change. After all, it had been 30 years since women were first admitted to the Academy and thousands of female cadets have gone on to serve and sometimes die for their country.

Some alumni are angry about the proposal, a change to a song a century old. But to General Hagenbeck, it's not about political correctness, it's about principle. And he's asked West Point's board to consider changing the word sons to the core. They promised to make a decision by the end of the summer.

(Soundbite of choir singing "Alma Mater")

Unidentified Man: (Singing) And when our work is done, our course on earth is run, may it be said well done, be thou at peace...

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