Mess Night Manual
Department of the Navy, Naval School, Civil Engineer Corps Officers [seal]
Freedom, Knowledge, Action, CECOS, U.S. Naval School, Civil Engineer Corps Officers [crest]
Mess Night Manual
Civil Engineer Corps Officers
Port Hueneme, California
|Introduction to Mess Night||iii|
|I.||Mess Night Origins||1|
|II.||Mess Night Format||1|
|G. Dining Room Arrangements||9|
|I. Briefing Sheets||10|
|A. Summary of Rules of Etiquette for Mess Night Attendees||A-1|
|B. Recommended Schedule for Mess Night Preparations||B-1|
|C. Format of Toasts to Heads of State||C-1|
|D. Sample Mess Night Script||D-1|
|E. Sample Mess Night Program||E-1|
[page ii is blank]
This manual is a summary of information concerning Mess Nights. Its purpose is to make life easier for those individuals responsible for planning and producing Mess Nights. The manual is based on several sources, all of which are listed in the bibliography, and summarizes the experience gained from Mess Nights presented by the Naval School, Civil Engineer Corps Officers (CECOS) and other commands of the Civil Engineer Corps. It is intended to serve as a supplement to any of the several excellent books on etiquette in the naval service.
The manual is divided into several sections for the convenience of the reader. Section 1, Mess Night Origins, presents a capsule summary of the meaning of Mess Night and the background of the traditions which are observed at Mess Nights. Section II, Mess Night Format, traces the various events which occur in a Mess Night. Section III, Toasts, is a summary of the etiquette of toasting as practiced at Mess Nights. Section IV, Arrangements, is intended primarily for those individuals who are responsible for planning and organizing a Mess Night, but may be of general interest to all officers.
The manual also contains several appendices which may be of assistance in planning a Mess Night. Appendix A is a Summary of the Rules of Etiquette for Mess Night Attendees, which should be made available to all officers and guests attending the occasion. Appendix B, Recommended Schedule for Mess Night Preparations, lists the "countdown" or actions which should be taken in preparing for a Mess Night. Appendix C, Form of Toasts for Heads of State, may prove useful when foreign guests attend a Mess Night. Appendix D, Sample Mess Night Script is included to serve as a guide in preparing the Mess Night Script. Appendix E contains a Sample Mess Night Souvenir Menu.
I. MESS NIGHT ORIGINS
A "Mess Night" is a scheduled evening when mess members and their guests gather in the mess for dinner. A formal Mess Night is referred to as a "Dining-In." Normally only officers of the mess and command guests are included. When spouses and other personal guests are invited, the occasion is called a "Dining-Out." Throughout this publication, the term "Mess Night" will be used as synonymous with both "Dining-In" and "Dining-Out." "Dinings-In" and "Dinings-Out" are conducted in the same format. The only difference is in the attendees.
A Mess Night is more than an officer's dinner party. It is a military formation, as old and as rich in tradition as the quarterdeck or the mounting of the guard, and as essential to a close-knit, smooth-performing unit as are drills, inspections and military ceremonies. Throughout the messes of the world, military men meet to honor their regiments, ships, standards, battles and dead. It is significant to note that irrespective of nationality, these mess formations vary in form only so much as do the traditions of the military organizations. It cannot be too strongly emphasized that mess night is not a party in any sense; it is very similar to honors, for its purpose is to solemnly pay tribute to all of those intangibles for and by which the military unit stands.
The Mess Night format is derived through tradition from a number of sources, particularly the Vikings and the British Navy. Meticulous attention should be given to the traditional aspects of this format.
The "Dining-In" had its inception in the earliest military victory celebrations. In the opening centuries of the Christian Era, it took its first step toward a stylized format in the revels of the Viking Clans on the occasion of their return from successful raids and forays against distant shores. These celebrations saw all male clan members present with the exception of the watch. The leader took his place at the head of the board with all others to his right or left in descending order of rank. Those of the clan who did not participate in the raid were seated below the salt, and did not participate in the disposition of the spoils. Warriors who had conducted themselves with valor or distinction were "guests" for the evening. They were seated closer to the leader than their rank normally entitled them. These "guests" customarily received a bonus from the share of the leader for their deeds.
The celebrations of the Vikings were great feasts where vast quantities of food and drink were served. Down through the millennium since the heyday of the Norsemen, the practice of recognizing and perpetuating the anniversaries of significant battles and feats of outstanding heroes by formal ceremony became generally adopted as a natural outgrowth of the special camaraderie of the military.
Like so many of our service traditions, the term "Mess
Night" and the format used in the U.S. Navy today was derived
from the British Navy. Although the tradition is very old in England,
it is not exclusively military. Tradition has it that the custom
began in the monasteries, was adopted by the early universities,
and later spread to military units when the officers' mess was
established. At one time, the formal dining procedure was observed
nightly in the British military messes. This nightly formality
and elegance was abandoned by the United States Navy when alcoholic
beverages were abolished aboard ship by General Order 99. However,
Mess Nights are still observed on special occasions such as an
anniversary, a commissioning or decommissioning, the visit of
a senior officer, or simply to enjoy good company.
II. MESS NIGHT FORMAT
The evening usually begins about one hour prior to dinner when officers assemble for cocktails in a room adjoining the dining room. All officers should arrive five minutes prior to the appointed hour. If there is to be an honored guest, he arrives with the Mess President. Although a receiving line is not necessary, officers should attempt to pay their respects to the honored guest at this time, or if there are too many officers to permit this, after the dinner.
Twenty minutes before dinner, the band sounds "ATTENTION." At this time, a drummer and a fifer playing "ROAST BEEF OF OLD ENGLAND" precede the Chief Chef into the cocktail area. The Chief Chef, who is carrying the roast of beef, and the drummer and fifer parade around the room, eventually ending up before the Mess President. The music stops and the meat is presented to him for approval. Everyone watches the ceremony as the Mess President cuts a piece of meat, samples it, and announces to those gathered, "This meat is fit for consumption." The Chief Chef then announces, "Dinner will be served in minutes." (On those occasions where the gathering is so large that the above ceremony cannot be conducted easily in the cocktail area, it is appropriate to conduct the ceremony in the dining room after the mess has assembled there.)
Ten minutes later, the band sounds "OFFICERS CALL," and all officers and personal guests (if any) proceed to the dining room and remain standing behind their places at the table. Those seated at the head table do not enter at this time. The smoking lamp is out and no drinks are carried into the dining area.
After all officers are at their places, the band plays "ANCHORS AWEIGH", and the head table officers and guests proceed to their places. The Mess President and the Guest of Honor should be the last to face their places. When the head table diners are in place, the band stops playing, and the Mess President declares that the Mess Night is open and announces "Gentlemen/Ladies, the grace." After grace is offered by the chaplain or some other previously designated officer, the Mess President announces "Seats" and everyone is seated.
From this moment until the smoking lamp is lighted following the toasts, there is an air of strict formality. There is no smoking [footnote 1], and no officer may join or leave the table without the permission of the President. Diners are free to engage in normal conversation but the topics of conversation should not include politics, religion, specific ladies, wagers or controversial issues. Shop talk, i.e., matters pertaining to the internal affairs of a Command, should not be discussed, but matters of general interest to the service are proper subjects of conversation.
The dinner is served (see Section IV paragraph E for a typical menu). The ranking guest is served first, followed by the President and then others in a counter-clockwise fashion around the table. Serving may also proceed simultaneously beginning with the person on the right of the Vice-President and proceeding counter-clockwise around the table. The waiters and waitresses serve appropriate wines with the main course (a rose or other red dinner wine) and with the dessert (champagne). These wines are not used for toasting, as it is not proper to propose a toast during the dinner. Dinner music may be provided if desired.
At the conclusion of the dessert course, and upon a prearranged signal from the Mess President, the stewards clear the entire table. All dishes, glasses, and flatware are removed. Only centerpieces (candelabra, flowers, etc.) and port glasses should remain. Dinner music ceases.
Decanters of port wine are placed in front of the ranking guest
and at several other points
around the table. Each officer fills his own glass with port wine. This custom derives from the earliest days, when it was usual for him who would drink to another to fill his own horn. Thus the toast, from the first moment is a completely spontaneous gesture.
As each diner fills his own glass, he passes the decanter from left to right. The decanters are not passed by the waiters. This procedure continues with the port moving around the table counter-clockwise until all glasses are charged. When passing port, the decanter must never rest on the table until the last glass at the individual table is charged, and that each glass is charged whether the member drinks or not. When a decanter has reached the end of the table
and the last glass is charged, it may be set down. Decanters should not accumulate in front of one officer. It is incorrect for the port to change direction [footnote 2], so if an officer refuses the decanter on a given round, he must wait until the next round is commenced. He may however, pass his glass down to an officer who has a decanter at the moment, although this is not considered to be good form. No one drinks the port until the first toast is proposed.
Officers who do not drink need not feel any embarrassment for not doing so. The proper procedure for those averse to drinking is to participate in the toasting ritual by raising the glass of port to their lips (without actually drinking it). It is considered an insult not to participate in the toast at all, and in military messes, it is highly improper to drink a toast with water. For this reason, all water glasses are removed from the table before the toasting begins.
After the glasses are filled, the Mess President rises and says, "Mr./Madame Vice, to the Commander-in-Chief of the United States." At the sound of the gavel (one rap means sit, two raps mean stand, and three raps mean attention), Mr./Madame Vice seconds this by rising and addressing the mess, saying, "Ladies and Gentlemen, the Commander-in-Chief of the United States." Each member and guest then stands, repeats in unison the toast (e.g., "The Commander-in-Chief of the United States"), sips the drink, and remains standing while the band plays the National Anthem. At the conclusion of the music, members and guests are again seated. (It is neither necessary nor advisable to empty the wine glass at each toast. It is recommended that port wine be sipped).
If a foreign guest is present, it is customary that the first toast be given to the head of state of his country. The toast is proposed and executed in the same manner as for the Commander-in-Chief of the United States, except that the national anthem of the guest's country is rendered. (See Appendix C for the correct wording of this toast). If the first toast is to the head of state of a foreign country, it is customary for that guest to respond by offering a toast to the Commander-in-Chief of the United States. If he does not do so, however, it is proper for the Vice-President of the Mess to propose the toast at the direction of the Mess President as outlined above. When guests represent more than one nation, the host proposes a collective toast to the heads of their several states, naming them in the order of the seniority of the representatives present. The highest ranking foreign officer among the guests will respond on behalf of all the guests by toasting the head of state of the host's country.
Immediately after the first toast, the President will call for the smoking lamp to be lighted. Mr./Madame Vice will present a lighted ceremonial lamp to the President who in turn will offer the light to the honored guests. After the lamp has passed the President, he will announce, "The smoking lamp is lighted." Smoking may now commence throughout the mess. Cigars should be distributed to each table with the port.
There then follows a series of pre-arranged toasts conducted in like manner. The pre-arranged toasts may be done two ways. The President may either personally call for specific formal toasts or may recognize a member of the mess to do so. If the President calls for a toast, Mr./Madame Vice will second it. If a member of the mess is recognized for the purpose of proposing a toast, the President will second it.
Toasts will be drunk in the following order:
|Foreign Head of State||Foreign National Anthem|
|The Commander-in-Chief||Star Spangled Banner|
|The Army (if desired)||U.S. Field Artillery|
|The Marine Corps||Marine Corps Hymn|
|The Coast Guard (if desired)||Semper Paratus|
|The Air Force (if desired)||Air Force Hymn|
|Secretary of the Navy||(no music)|
|Chief of Naval Operations||(no music)|
|The Civil Engineer Corps||(no music)|
|Chief of Civil Engineers||(no music)|
|The Seabees||Song of the Seabees|
|Informal Toasts||(no music)|
|The Navy (final toast of the evening)||Anchors Aweigh|
It is permissible for the President to recess the mess for
a short period. (Each time the Mess is adjourned and reassembled,
members should stand behind their chairs until the head table
has left or is seated). If there is a recess, the mess reconvenes
at the dining table (at the same seats).
After completing the pre-arranged formal toasts, the Mess President makes appropriate remarks and introduces the head table. The guest of honor is introduced last and given this opportunity to address the mess.
Following this address, informal toasts will be received from members of the mess. To propose a toast, the officer rises, faces the Mess President and says, "Mr./Madame President, I have a point of order." After recognition, he says,'"Mr./ Madame President, the _______________" . If the President deems the toast justified, he/she will direct Mr./Madame Vice to second the toast in the same manner as in the formal toast. Officers stand, repeat the toast, drink, and resume their seats.
The President and Vice-President now engage in humorous conversation and present awards, gag gifts, and other presents to selected officers. This is done in a humorous manner and the officer being honored replies in the same vein.
The President will then, without rising, call for a toast to the United States Navy. Before seconding, Mr./Madame Vice proceeds to the head table and fills each glass starting from honored guest and ending with the President. The President then fills Mr./Madame Vice's glass, who faces the mess and seconds the toast. The President will stand while Mr./Madame Vice seconds the toast. All present rise, responding in unison, "The United States Navy," drain the entire glass and remain standing while "ANCHORS AWEIGH" is played.
Following the toast to the U.S. Navy, the President will invite those present to join him/her at the bar. Attendees should remain at their places until the head table has left the mess. The bar will be open for refreshments.
The day after a Mess Night often includes a ceremony such as a commissioning, pass in review, or graduation. Because of this, sometimes a "Cinderella Hour" or pre-established closing time is observed. In any event, the usual custom of remaining until the senior guest departs is not strictly adhered to, since he/she would then have to choose between cutting short his/her enjoyment of the evening, or delaying those who may have to rise early the next day.
Despite its formality and ritual, mess night is intended to be enjoyable.
The above format is the same for a "Dining-Out" except
that officer's spouses and personal guests are present.
A toast is a social formality in which wine or liquor is drunk in honor of an individual or organization. The custom of toasting is very old, dating from the pre-Christian era. Today it is practiced throughout the world with slight variations in different localities.
The term "toast" has its origin in sixteenth century England, where it was fashionable to add a small piece of toasted bread to drinks. The toast was a delicacy, somewhat like the olive in a martini. It thus became customary for the term "toast" to be applied to a drink proposed in honor of a person during a meal or at its conclusion. Although the bit of toast is no longer used, the term has survived to the present day.
In our society, toasting is a part of many occasions - wedding receptions, engagement parties, anniversaries, wetting-down parties, and official dinners, including Mess Nights. Much of the etiquette of toasting is the same for these occasions. For the details of toasting at occasions other than Mess Nights, the reader should consult one of the many excellent books available on social etiquette.
Toasts are offered in honor of one or more individuals or organizations. Toasting to places or things is improper. Thus when proposing a toast to a command, one must be careful to speak of the command as an organization of people rather than as a geographical location or a facility. When toasting individuals, it is proper to toast the individual's position, but not toasting them by name.
When a toast is proposed, all persons present stand and participate except those who are the object of the toast. These persons may either stand or remain seated, but do not sip the drink, for to do so would be to drink to oneself. It is entirely proper to drink to ones own country or head of state. Although some etiquette books disagree, it has become the practice to drink to ones service, i.e., "The Navy," when that service is the only one present. Likewise, it has become customary to drink to ones own component of the service when nearly everyone is a Civil Engineer Corps Officer, all would participate in toasts to "The Civil Engineer Corps" and "The Seabees". However, a few naval officers at a civilian dinner would not participate in a toast to "The Navy." It is always improper to drink to ones own command. This restriction may be circumvented by toasting the commanding officer of the command.
Toasts are usually made with champagne, but other wines are also suitable. At a Mess Night, port wine is used for all toasts. Although civilian practice is more permissive, in the military, toasts are never drunk with liqueurs, soft drinks, or water. Tradition is that the object of a toast with water will die by drowning.
There are other traditional reasons why water is not available during the toasting. In 1649, Oliver Cromwell took over the government of England upon the execution of Charles I. The Royal Successor, James I, was in exile on the Continent. Thus, it came to pass that certain subterfuges developed in the military among the officers remaining loyal to the crown. Water goblets formerly remained on the table during the toasts, and the officers remaining loyal to the uncrowned king always passed their wine over the water in the goblet. In this manner, they were secretly and silently saluting the Royal Exile, who was "over the water." When this clandestine homage was exposed, the least of the consequences was the removal of water goblets prior to passing the port, a custom which remains with us today.
It is socially improper to refuse to participate in a toast, even though one does not drink. A non-drinker should lift his glass of wine to his lips without actually drinking it.
International custom dictates certain procedures which are followed when toasts are exchanged in foreign messes or United States messes when foreign guests are present. At the end of the meal, the host proposes a standing toast to the head of state of the foreign guest's country. All present rise, repeat the toast, sip the wine (or raise it to their lips if they are non-drinkers), remain standing while the national anthem of the guest's country is played, following which they sit down. A minute or so later, the highest ranking foreign guest then responds by proposing a toast to the head of state of the host's country. (All rise, repeat the toast, drink, remain standing through the national anthem of the host's country, and sit down.) These toasts may be followed by toasts to the services present.
If it should occur that guests from several foreign countries are present, the host may propose a collective toast to the heads of their states. They should be named in order of seniority of the guests present. The highest ranking foreign guest then responds with a toast to the head of state of the host's country.
When drinking a toast, one should sip the wine. It is not necessary to empty the glass. Several toasts may be made with the same glass of wine. He who exercises moderation in drinking each toast will survive a long series of toasts in better fashion than one who "bottoms-up" on each toast. This is especially true at a Mess Night where the port wine used for toasting is sweet and strong.
It is customary for a special toast to be given for each evening
of the week. The toasts are as follows:
|Monday night:||"Our ships at sea"|
|Tuesday night:||"Our men"|
|Thursday night:||"A bloody war or a sickly season,"[footnote 3]|
|Friday night:||"A willing foe and sea-room"|
|Saturday night:||"Sweethearts and wives"|
|Sunday night:||"Absent friends"|
The purpose of this section is to provide guidance for those individuals who are responsible for planning and organizing a Mess Night. The information contained in this section supplements general information on social etiquette found in any standard etiquette book.
1. The Mess President. The Mess President is normally the Commanding Officer of the command hosting the Mess Night, but may be some other designated senior officer. In cases where there are co-hosts, one of the co-hosts acts as Mess President for the combined messes. The Mess President oversees the entire organization and operation of the Mess Night and acts as the master of ceremonies for the evening.
2. The Vice-President. The Vice-President of the Mess is normally a junior officer with exceptional wit and speaking ability. He/she should be a member of the mess, i.e., attached to the command which is hosting the Mess Night. The Vice-President is referred to as "Mr./Madame Vice." He/she is normally seated at the foot of the table or at the opposite end of the banquet hall from the President. Mr./Madame Vice proposes toasts at the direction of the President and participates with the President in informal conversation and humorous presentations to selected officers.
One of the first arrangements that must be made for any Mess Night is the printing and sending of invitations. Sufficient time must be allowed for printing, addressing, and sending the invitations and receiving the responses. Very early in the Mess Night planning stages, an invitation list should be drawn up. Extra invitations should be ordered to allow for later additions to the guest list. A sample invitation for a Mess Night with a single host is shown below. Envelopes should be hand addressed without rank abbreviations.
The management of reservations will be easier if a reservation card and pre-addressed return envelope are included with the invitation. A sample reservation card is shown below:
To allow time for determining seating arrangements and preparing the seating chart and placecards, the reservations should be closed a few days before the Mess Night.
While it is desirable that a Mess Night not be a command performance, all officers invited to the occasion should make every effort to attend. Attendance is a manifestation of that "esprit de corps" which should be a fundamental attribute of every officer. It is not good form for a Commanding Officer to order an officer to attend, but it is equally bad form for an officer not to attend without good reason.
The uniform normally prescribed for Mess Night is the mess dress uniform, either Dinner Dress Blue Jacket or Dinner Dress White Jacket. Lieutenants and below may wear either Dinner Dress Blue or Dinner Dress White. (Dinner Dress Blue is the same as Service Dress Blue except that a black bow tie and miniature medals are worn, white gloves are prescribable, and a formal turndown white shirt is optional. Dinner Dress White is the same as Service Dress White but with miniature medals instead of ribbons). Civilians should wear black tie; i.e., tuxedos. (White dinner jackets are permissible when officers will be wearing the Dinner Dress White Jacket). Retired officers may wear uniforms as a Mess Night is a military ceremony.
Garden Green Salad With Geisha Shrimp
Prime Rib of Beef, Au Jus
Baked Idaho Russet
Early Peas and Pearl Onions
Sour Dough French Rolls
Fresh Orange Cup with Pineapple Sherbet
Vin Rose Sec
Rather than ending with a sweet dessert, some messes prefer to serve a savory (such as cheese and crackers) to prepare the palate for the port.
It is customary to provide a printed souvenir menu at each place at the dinner table. Information about the origin and traditions of Mess Night, program notes, or a biography of the guest of honor is often included. A sample souvenir menu may be found in Appendix E.
While it is not mandatory that music be provided at a Mess Night, a band contributes much to the atmosphere of elegance and ceremony. When arranging for the presence of a band, it should be determined whether all the necessary music is available. It may be necessary to obtain music for "ROAST BEEF OF OLD ENGLAND," although most Navy bands do have this music. If there is to be a toast to a foreign head of state, it will be necessary to obtain music for the national anthem of that country. The best source of this music is a regional Navy Band, or the Navy Band in Washington, D.C. The appropriate embassy may also be able to provide the music. If a band is not available, taped music is acceptable.
G. DINING ROOM ARRANGEMENTS
The Mess President is seated at the head of the table or in the hosts position at a head table when more than one table is used. Mr./Madame Vice is seated at the foot of the table. The ranking guest is seated to the right of the President, the second senior to the President's left, and so on down the table. If certain individuals are to be honored, such as foreign officers, it is common to seat them higher than their rank would normally dictate.
Flags are placed behind the head table with the national flag on the speakers right if the head table is on a platform or stage as shown below:
If the head table is not on a platform, the positions of the
flags should be reversed, with the national flag to the right
of the audience as they face the head table.
Place cards should be prepared for all places. The Place card should contain only the handwritten rank and last name of the individual, e.g., ENSIGN SMITH, except in cases of two persons having the same rank and last name, where initials may be used to distinguish the two, e.g., ENSIGN A. B. JOHNSON, ENSIGN C. D. JOHNSON. Rank should not be abbreviated. A sample place card is shown below:
In determining the cost of the Mess Night, be sure to include not only the cost of the food and wine, but also all other incidentals such as flowers for table decorations, tips for waiters/waitresses, and humorous gifts. A clear understanding should be reached on matters such as which guests will be non-paying guests and who will pay for the musician's meals.
I. BRIEFING SHEETS
Because Mess Nights are held infrequently, it is recommended that a briefing sheet be sent to each officer who will attend the Mess Night. Appendix A contains a summary of the applicable rules of etiquette for Mess Nights, which might be included on this briefing sheet along with information on the origins and traditions of Mess Nights and any other pertinent material.
1. Mack, William P., and Connell, Royal W., Naval Ceremonies, Customs, and Traditions, Fifth Edition, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland, 1980.
2. NTP 13(A), Flags, Pennants and Customs.
3. OPNAVINST 1710.7, Social Usage and Protocol Handbook.
4. Swartz, Oretha D., Service Etiquette, Third Edition,
Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland, 1977.
SUMMARY OF RULES OF ETIQUETTE FOR MESS NIGHT ATTENDEES
1.Respond to invitation promptly and before deadline.
2. Arrive promptly at appointed time for cocktails. Consult seating chart to determine assigned seat.
3. Meet guest of honor and other guests.
4. When "OFFICERS' CALL" is played, proceed to assigned seat and remain standing. Do not take drinks to the dining room. Do not smoke until the smoking lamp is lighted by the Mess President.
5. Do not leave the mess before it is adjourned. (In an emergency, obtain permission of the President to leave).
6. Engage in general conversation over dinner, but do not discuss politics, religion, specific ladies, wagers, controversial issues, or shop. Matters of general interest to the service may be discussed. There are generally no toasts during dinner.
7. After the table is cleared and port decanters are placed, fill your own wine glass with port wine as the decanter is passed. The decanters are always passed from left to right, counterclockwise around the table.
8. When a toast is proposed, rise with glass in hand, repeat the toast, sip the wine, remain standing while the music plays, if there is any, and sit down.
9. As the President introduces the head table, applaud each person.
10. At the appropriate time, it is proper for an officer to propose a toast from the floor. To do this, the officer rises, faces the Mess President and says, "Mr./Madame President, I have a point of order." After recognition, he says, "Mr./Madame President, the________________." Officers stand, repeat the toast, drink, and resume their seats.
RECOMMENDED SCHEDULE FOR MESS NIGHT PREPARATIONS
|D-42* [footnote 4]||Determine date and time of Mess Night.|
|Determine availability of guest of honor.|
|Meet with mess manager to reserve mess and determine menu and cost per person.|
|Determine the uniform.|
|Arrange for band. Obtain music for foreign national anthems, if required. (Best source is the Navy Band in Washington, D.C.).|
|D-35||Prepare preliminary invitation list. Determine approximate total number of guests to be invited.|
|Prepare invitation and send to printer.|
|D-28||Prepare menu for printing.|
|Complete invitation list.|
|Select officers to act as Mess President and Vice-President.|
|D-21||Send menu to printer.|
|Receive invitations from printer.|
|Send out all invitations.|
|Arrange for publicity and photographs as desired.|
|Arrange for waiters or waitresses as required.|
|D-14||Prepare script and distribute to Mess President, Vice-President, Mess Manager, and Band Leader.|
|Brief Mess President, Vice-President, Mess Manager, and Band Leader.|
|Order flowers for tables as desired.|
|Arrange for public address system for dining room, as required. Microphones may be needed by both the Mess President and Vice-President.|
|Start assembling humorous gifts for selected officers. Prepare briefing sheet for attendees.|
Procure place cards.
Start preparing precedence list of attendees.
|D-7||Receive menus from printer.|
|Send briefing sheets to attendees.|
|Prepare cue cards for Mess President, Vice-President, Mess Manager, and Band Leader.|
|Arrange for the chaplain or some other officer to say grace.|
|D-6||Give final count of attendees to Mess Manager.|
|Determine table arrangements.|
|Prepare name slips for seating chart.|
|Determine head table seating plan.|
|D-5||Prepare place cards.|
|D-4||Complete precedence list.|
|Prepare tentative seating arrangement.|
|D-3||Complete preparation of humorous gifts for selected officers.|
|Deadline for reservations.|
|D-2||Rehearsal: Mess President, Vice-President, Band Leader, and Mess Manager should attend.|
|D-1||Complete seating chart.|
|Rehearsal: As required.|
|D||Check table set up in dining area.|
|Set flags in place behind the head table.|
|Place seating chart at conspicuous location near the entrance.|
|Set place cards and menus on tables.|
|Check out public address system, if used.|
|Place humorous gifts near head table.|
|Ensure all waiters have been briefed.|
|Band should be in place ready to play 15 minutes before the scheduled start time.|
FORM OF TOASTS FOR HEADS OF STATE
|(NOTE: TOASTS are to individuals or dignitaries, never to places or "things")|
|KING -||TOAST: "To His Majesty, the King of ___________."|
|RESPONSE: "His Majesty, the King of ___________."|
|QUEEN -||TOAST: "To Her Majesty, the Queen of___________."|
|RESPONSE: "Her Majesty, the Queen of ___________."|
|PRESIDENT -||TOAST: "To His Excellency, the President of ___________."|
|RESPONSE: "His Excellency, the President of ___________."|
|PRIME MINISTER -||TOAST: "To His Excellency, the Prime Minister of ___________."|
|RESPONSE: "His Excellency, the Prime Minister of ___________."|
|GOVERNOR GENERAL -||TOAST: "To His Excellency, the Governor of ___________."|
|RESPONSE: "His Excellency, the Governor of ___________."|
The coordinator of the Mess Night is well advised to check
the current form of government in power in the home country of
a guest. No faux pas is more embarrassing than to offer a toast
to a deposed head of state.
SAMPLE MESS NIGHT SCRIPT
At 1830, the band will arrive, set up, and warm up.
At 1855, officers will arrive for cocktails in the bar area.
At 1900, the Mess President arrives with the honored guest, ADMIRAL ALFA.
Band: Sounds "ATTENTION"
Chef: Parades beef preceded by drummer and fifer playing "ROAST BEEF OF OLD ENGLAND." Presents meat to Mess President for sampling and approval.
President: Samples the meat and announces, "THIS MEAT IS FIT FOR CONSUMPTION."
Chef: Announces, "DINNER WILL BE SERVED IN ___ MINUTES."
Band: Sounds "OFFICERS CALL."
All officers: Proceed to assigned seats and remain standing. No drinks are taken to the tables. Smoking lamp is out.
Band: Plays "ANCHORS AWEIGH."
Head Table: Proceed to head table and remain standing at assigned places.
After band stops playing:
President: "THE MESS NIGHT FOR BASIC CLASS NUMBER 179 IS NOW OPEN. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE GRACE."
Chaplain: Says grace.
After the grace:
Band: Plays soft dinner music.
Upon signal from the President (fork turned with tynes down), waiters clear entire table and place glasses and port wine on table.
Officers: Pour port wine in own glass and pass to the right.
When all wine glasses are filled:
Band: Stops playing dinner music.
President: Rises and says, "MR. VICE, TO HIS EXCELLENCY, THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KOREA."
Mr. Vice: Rises and says, "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, HIS EXCELLENCY, THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KOREA."
Officers: Stand with glasses raised, say in unison, "HIS EXCELLENCY, THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KOREA," drink the toast, remain standing as the band plays "KOREAN NATIONAL ANTHEM," and sit down.
Mr. Vice: Proceeds to the head table with the smoking lamp, and offers it to the president who passes it to the honored guest. The honored guest lights his cigar and returns the lamp to the president who lights his own cigar.
President: Once he lights his cigar, the President will announce, "THE SMOKING LAMP IS LIGHTED."
Mr. Vice: Returns to his seat.
After a short interval:
LCDR Park: Rises and faces Mess President saying, "MR. PRESIDENT, I HAVE A POINT OF ORDER."
President: Rises and says, "LIEUTENANT COMMANDER PARK, KOREAN NAVY."
LCDR Park: "MR. PRESIDENT, TO THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE UNITED STATES."
President: "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE UNITED STATES."
Officers: Stand with glasses raised, say in unison, "THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE UNITED STATES," drink the toast, remain standing as the band plays "STAR SPANGLED BANNER," and sit down.
The toasting process outlined for the President above then
is repeated for the following toasts:
"THE ARMY" - U.S. FIELD ARTILLERY
"THE MARINE CORPS" - MARINE CORPS HYMN
"THE COAST GUARD" - SEMPER PARATUS
"THE AIR FORCE" - AIR FORCE HYMN
"THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY" (no music)
"THE CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS" (no music)
"THE CIVIL ENGINEER CORPS" (no music)
"THE CHIEF OF CIVIL ENGINEERS" (no music)
"THE SEABEES" - SONG OF THE SEABEES
This completes the planned toasts.
President: "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THIS CONCLUDES THE FIRST PORTION OF THIS EVENING'S DINING IN. THE MESS WILL RECESS FOR TEN MINUTES AND WILL RECONVENE AT THE TABLES."
After the ten-minute break, the mess reconvenes. All officers remain standing until the head table is seated.
President: Welcomes guests and introduces the head table, introducing Admiral Alfa last.
Admiral Alfa: Given this opportunity to speak.
After the conclusion of the Admiral's comments:
President: "THE FLOOR IS NOW OPEN FOR INFORMAL TOASTS."
At this time, any officer may propose an additional toast from the floor. The procedure to be followed is:
Officer: Rises, faces the President and says, "MR. PRESIDENT, I HAVE A POINT OF ORDER."
President: Recognizes the officer by name or gesture.
Officer: "MR. PRESIDENT, THE ___________."
All Officers: Rise, repeat toast, drink, and resume seats.
After the informal toasting has run its course, or in the President's judgement, it is time to move on:
President: "MR. VICE, I BELIEVE WE HAVE SOME UNFINISHED BUSINESS REMAINING."
Mr. Vice: "MR. PRESIDENT, THERE IS AN OFFICER AMONG US WHO IS GOOD AT GROWING THINGS. HE SPENDS EVERY WAKING MINUTE, OUTSIDE OF WORK THAT IS, PAMPERING HIS YARD AND GARDEN. AS A RESULT, FOR AS LONG AS ANYONE CAN REMEMBER, HE HAS WON THE SEABEE CENTER 'YARD-OF-THE- MONTH AWARD."
President: "THAT IS A NOTEWORTHY ACHIEVEMENT. AND I APPRECIATE HOW MUCH WORK IS NECESSARY TO KEEP A YARD IN SHAPE. WHY I HAVE TO SPEND A HALF DAY EACH WEEK MYSELF TO KEEP MY TWO-ACRE YARD CUT. HOW BIG IS HIS YARD?"
Mr. Vice: "IT IS ABOUT 200 SQUARE FEET. IT WOULD FIT IN YOUR YARD SEVERAL TIMES OVER AND THERE WOULD STILL BE ROOM FOR A FOOTBALL FIELD. THIS OFFICER'S GROWING TALENTS ARE NOT LIMITED TO PLANTS EITHER. ONLY NINE DAYS AGO, HIS WIFE PRESENTED HIM WITH A SEVEN POUND, SIX OUNCE BABY BOY."
President: "I THOUGHT YOU SAID HE SPENT ALL HIS FREE TIME IN HIS YARD! YOU MUST BE TALKING ABOUT LCDR CHARLIE DELTA. I HAVE THOUGHT FOR A LONG TIME THAT HE TAKES UNFAIR ADVANTAGE OF THE REST OF US. OUR THUMBS ARE NOT AS GREEN AS HIS."
Mr. Vice: "TONIGHT WE ARE GOING TO REMEDY THAT SITUATION, MR. PRESIDENT. WE ARE GOING TO GIVE HIM A HANDICAP."
President: "LCDR DELTA, WILL YOU PLEASE STEP FORWARD."
LCDR Delta steps to head table.
"SO THAT YOU NO LONGER TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR GREENER THUMB, WE ARE PRESENTING YOU WITH THIS POT OF WEEDS. WE KNOW THAT YOUR SENSE OF FAIR PLAY WILL LEAD YOU TO PLANT THESE WEEDS IN YOUR HUGE YARD SO THAT THE REST OF US HAVE A CHANCE AT 'YARD OF THE MONTH' TOO."
After LCDR Delta resumes his seat, the following ensues:
Mr. Vice: "MR. PRESIDENT, THERE IS A LINE OFFICER AMONG US WHO HAS SUFFERED LONG AT THE HANDS OF CIVIL ENGINEER CORPS OFFICERS. BEFORE HE CAME TO THIS BASE, HE WAS SIX FEET SIX INCHES TALL. EACH EXECUTIVE OFFICER HERE AT THE SEABEE CENTER HAS HAD A PIECE OF HIM UNTIL NOW HE IS ONLY FIVE FEET TWO INCHES TALL."
President: "THE MAN OF WHOM YOU ARE SPEAKING CAN BE NONE OTHER THAN LCDR JOHN ECHO."
Mr. Vice: "THAT IS RIGHT, MR. PRESIDENT, AND TONIGHT WE WANT TO MAKE IT POSSIBLE FOR HIM TO ONCE AGAIN LOOK THE EXECUTIVE OFFICER IN THE EYE. WE WOULD LIKE TO PRESENT HIM WITH A PAIR OF STILTS, WHICH HE CAN WEAR EVERY TIME HE HAS TO VISIT THE FRONT OFFICE."
President: "LCDR ECHO, WILL YOU PLEASE STEP FORWARD TO RECEIVE THESE STILTS?"
LCDR Echo comes to head table to receive stilts. Afterward, he takes his seat.
Mr. Vice: "MR. PRESIDENT, THERE IS A DISTINGUISHED OFFICER AMONG US WHO WORKS VERY HARD. NOT ONLY DOES HE PUT IN LONG HOURS AT HIS DESK, BUT HE ALSO SPENDS MANY EXTRA HOURS REPRESENTING THE NAVY AND THE SEABEES IN THE CIVILIAN COMMUNITY. HE HAS TO ATTEND ONE SOCIAL AFFAIR AFTER ANOTHER. YOU MIGHT SAY HIS LIFE IS A SERIES OF PARTIES."
President: "YES, MR. VICE. I BELIEVE I KNOW OF WHOM YOU ARE SPEAKING. I HAVE BEEN AWARE OF HIS HEAVY SOCIAL SCHEDULE FOR SOME TIME. ISN'T THERE SOMETHING WE CAN DO TO HELP HIM OUT?"
Mr. Vice: "YES, MR. PRESIDENT. WE HAVE PUT TOGETHER A PARTY KIT WHICH WILL MAKE HIS LIFE A BIT EASIER. IN THE KIT IS A GLASS THAT HOLDS NO LIQUOR, A BOTTLE OF ASPIRIN IN CASE SOMEBODY SWITCHES GLASSES, AND A JOKE BOOK SO HE WILL NEVER BE AT A LOSS FOR A FUNNY STORY."
President: "CAPTAIN FOXTROT, WILL YOU PLEASE ACCEPT THIS PARTY KIT WITH OUR COMPLIMENTS FOR THE SUPERB MANNER IN WHICH YOU REPRESENT THE NAVY AND THE SEABEES IN THE CIVILIAN COMMUNITY."
Captain Foxtrot accepts the gift and may at this time make a few remarks, tell some stories, etc.
Mr Vice: "MR. PRESIDENT, THE CHIEF OF CIVIL ENGINEERS IS NOT QUALIFIED FOR HIS JOB."
President: "MR. VICE, THAT IS A PRETTY STRONG STATEMENT. COULD YOU PLEASE EXPLAIN WHAT IT IS YOU ARE DRIVING AT?"
Mr. Vice: "MR. PRESIDENT, IN CHECKING THROUGH THE ALUMNI ROLLS, WE FOUND THAT ADMIRAL ALFA NEVER GRADUATED FROM CECOS. HOW CAN HE CONSIDER HIMSELF QUALIFIED AS A CIVIL ENGINEER CORPS OFFICER UNLESS HE HAS GRADUATED FROM THE CIVIL ENGINEER CORPS OFFICERS SCHOOL?"
President: "WE CAN'T LET THIS DEFICIENCY GO UNCORRECTED A MOMENT LONGER. ADMIRAL ALFA, WE KNOW THAT BECAUSE YOU ENTERED THE CORPS BEFORE CECOS WAS ESTABLISHED, YOU WERE DEPRIVED OF A CECOS EDUCATION. WE HAVE DECIDED TO REMEDY THE SITUATION BY MAKING YOU AN HONORARY GRADUATE OF CECOS AND A MEMBER OF CLASS ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY-NINE. I HAVE HERE A DIPLOMA WHICH I WOULD LIKE TO READ AND PRESENT TO YOU."
Presents diploma to Admiral Alfa.
At this time, Admiral Alfa makes any last comments.
President: (Without standing up) "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, TO THE UNITED STATES NAVY."
At this time, Mr. Vice proceeds to the head table, carrying his filled wine glass, and beginning with the guest of honor and ending with the President, he fills each glass at the head table with wine from a carafe. Once this is done, the President will rap his gavel twice for everyone to stand.
Mr. Vice: He remains at the head table, turns around, faces the mess, and says, "TO THE UNITED STATES NAVY." (This toast is traditionally the only "Bottoms Up" toast of the evening.) Officers remain standing while "ANCHORS AWEIGH" is played.
The President raps his gavel once to indicate everyone sit down. Mr. Vice returns to his seat and sits down.
President: "THANK YOU ADMIRAL ALFA. I WISH TO EXPRESS
MY APPRECIATION TO ALL OUR GUESTS FOR ATTENDING THIS MESS NIGHT.
CAPTAIN FOXTROT, AS ALWAYS, WE ARE DEEPLY INDEBTED
TO YOU FOR YOUR MAGNIFICENT SUPPORT OF CECOS. AND ADMIRAL ALFA, WE AGAIN THANK YOU FOR YOUR STIRRING REMARKS AND FOR MAKING THIS MESS NIGHT A RESOUNDING SUCCESS. I HOPE ALL OF YOU HAVE ENJOYED OUR FORMALITIES AND INFORMALITIES. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, WILL YOU JOIN ME AT THE BAR."
page 1 - cover
Mess Night Program
PAGE 2 MESS NIGHT INFORMATION
The occasion had its inception in the earliest military victory celebrations. In the opening centuries of the Christian Era, it took its first step toward a stylized format in the revels of the Viking Clans on the occasion of their return from successful raids and forays against distant shores. These celebrations saw all male clan members present with the exception of the watch. The leader took his place at the head of the board with all others to his right or left in descending order of rank. Those of the clan who did not participate in the raid were seated below the salt, and did not participate in the disposition of the spoils. Warriors who had conducted themselves with valor or distinction were "guests" for the evening. They were seated closer to the leader than their rank normally entitled them. These "guests" customarily received a bonus from the share of the leader for their deeds.
The celebrations of the Vikings were great feasts where vast quantities of food and drink were served. Down through the millenium since the heyday of the Norsemen, the practice of recognizing and perpetuating the anniversaries of significant battles and feats of outstanding heroes by formal ceremony became generally adopted as a natural outgrowth of the special camaraderie of the military.
In 1649, Oliver Cromwell took over the government of England upon the execution of Charles I. The Royal Successor, James I, was in exile on the Continent. Thus, it came to pass that certain subterfuges developed in the military among the officers remaining loyal to the crown. Water goblets formerly remained on the table during the toasts, and the officers remaining loyal to the uncrowned king always passed their wine over the water in the goblet. In this manner, they were secretly and silently saluting the Royal Exile, who was "over the water." When this clandestine homage was exposed, the least of the consequences was the removal of water goblets prior to passing the port, a custom which remains with us today.
During the meal, all foods, wines and dishes are served with the exception of the port. The port is placed by the waiters or waitresses, who do not again touch the decanters until they are empty. This custom derives from the earliest days, when it was usual for him who would drink to another to fill his own horn. Thus the toast, from the first moment is a completely spontaneous gesture.
A "Dining-In" or "Mess Night" is a military formation, as old and as rich in tradition as the quarterdeck or the mounting of the guard, and as essential to a close-knit, smooth performing unit as are drills, inspections and military ceremonies. Throughout the messes of the world, military men meet to honor their regiments, ships, standards, battles and dead. It is significant to note that irrespective of nationality, these mess formations vary in form only so much as do the traditions of the military organizations. It cannot be too strongly emphasized that Mess Night is not a party in any sense; it is very similar to honors, for its purpose is to solemnly pay tribute to all of those intangibles for and by which the military unit stands.
PAGE 3 - PROGRAM
1900 Officers arrive and pay respects to the Guest of Honor
1935 Band sounds "Attention"
Drummer and fifer head the procession playing "Roast Beef
of Old England" and the
Chief Chef presents the meat to the President for his inspection and approval.
1945 Band sounds "Officers' Call." The bar closes.
Officers proceed to their assigned
seats and stand until Grace is offered. It is customary that no one brings his drink to
the table, smokes, or leaves his place during dinner.
1950 Band plays "Anchors Aweigh." The Head Table officers proceed to their table.
2000 Dinner is served. After the savory dish, the table is
cleared, and decanters of port
wine are passed, counter-clockwise only around the table.
When everyone has been served, the President of the Mess rises and proposes the first toast.
"Mr. Vice, to the Commander-in-Chief of the United States."
The Vice (a predesignated junior officer) rises, raises his glass, and gives the toast: "Ladies and gentlemen, the Commander-in-Chief of the United States." Each member and guest then stands, repeats in unison the toast (e.g., "The Commander-in-Chief of the United States"), sips the drink, and remains standing as the band plays the National Anthem. At the conclusion of the music, members and guests are again seated.
The President will call for the smoking lamp to be lighted. Smoking may then commence throughout the mess.
The formal toasting continues.
The President makes a few remarks, introduces the honored guests, and gives them the opportunity to speak.
After the introduction of guests, any officer may propose an additional toast. The officer rises, faces the Mess President and says, "Mr. President, I have a point of order." After recognition, he says, "Mr. President, the ___________." Officers stand, repeat the toast, drink and resume their seats.
Upon completion of dinner festivities, the President announces that the bar is open (signifying the end of formalities).
PAGE 4 - MENU
Garden Green Salad With Geisha Shrimp
Prime Rib of Beef, Au Jus
Baked Idaho Russet
Early Peas and Pearl Onions
Sour Dough French Rolls
Fresh Orange Cup with Pineapple Sherbet
Vin Rose Sec