Hey There !
Today is the perfect day for a football game - inside that is. We've got football food going and we are in the first quarter of the Army-Navy game in Philly. Today will be the day. After, I won't even say it... a few years ... Army is due for a win ! But ok if that is not in the cards, watching the tradition is what I love.
You see, my Dad went to West Point. Class of '61. The black, grey and gold has been a part of this family forever. He tells his stories of "the mole patrol", walking the area, the "definition of leather" and "how's the cow?" I even went to a dance or two in Eisenhower Hall back in the day. I am here to say, when you walk into a sea of grey uniforms, your heart stops a bit. There really is nothing like a man in uniform. It kind of takes your breath away. Game days are events and nothing is a bigger event than the Army-Navy Game.
summer of 1961 - mom and dad
If you talk tradition, you'd be hard pressed to find any institution with as much history as the two that face off today.
A game of this magnitude has some pretty interesting stories of the lengths cadets and midshipmen go in order to preserve these great traditions. Here are three I love and have hear over the years, but so well written by Stix Symmonds for the Bleacher Report . . .
The March-On. There is something about a uniform. Nothing tugs at the soul quite like seeing these young men (as as of '75 women) marching in sharp uniform with military precision. As each academy enters the stadium they are lined up in tight rows and columns, conscious of every movement, from the distance of their step to the arc and travel in the swing of their arms. If anyone has ever seriously conducted Drill and Ceremony drills, you would know that the amount of attention to your body movements required is immense. When it all comes together, it's a spectacle of discipline.
Honor the Fallen. At the conclusion of each game, the teams meet in the center of the field. Both teams first turn to the stands containing the fans of the defeated team, and they sing that teams alma mater. Then, both teams turn to the side of the victors and return the favor of their fans. It's a clear sign of solidarity and mutual respect. Nowhere in college football does this happen outside of this game. It's the greatest display of sportsmanship you will ever see! It is a reminder that, while the rivalry is as deep as any other in the nation, these two teams are ultimately on the same team. Away from the field of collegiate competition, they serve side-by-side in the deadliest game of all, national defense.
Prisoner Exchange. Where else would find a taking of prisoners? Well, the military of course. Where else would find students swapping schools for a semester just for a football game? Only the military. This is exactly what happens between Army and Navy. During their junior year, selected midshipmen and cadets spend a semester "in enemy territory" attending the opposition's institution until game day, when they are returned to their own side during the prisoner exchange. This tradition is not only involved, it's mutually beneficial. The selected cadets and miss get a taste of life and training from the view of their brothers-in-arms. It fosters mutual respect and helps open the gates of communication between rival entities!
As my tribute to the grey, black and gold, and the simple fact I cannot just do one thing at a time while I sit on the big ole sofa with the men in my life screaming around me . . . I am pulling my favorite colors of the day . . . and all things West Point !!!
all available at www.lucyandcompany.com, except the cadets.
Game on . . . .