10 December 2011


On paper, the only two college football teams playing today have losing records. The team from "Crabtown" is 4-7 and the team that often plays "outlined against a blue-gray October sky" is 3-8. Doesn't matter.

Tonight one team will celebrate a winning season while the other will have to endure another 365 days with the memory of the loss of a single game. Today is Army-Navy.

Navy now leads the all-time series with a record of 55 wins, 49 losses, and seven ties, but that is irrelevant, for both teams will come ready to play. Each year, this game is a new season in and of itself. Today is Army-Navy.

Among the arcane knowledge that each plebe must learn and spit out on command is “How many days until Army [Navy], Mister?” The calendar starts anew tonight because today is Army-Navy.

The seniors will not be going to the NFL—they’ll go to a much tougher league where the opponents play by no rules and play for keeps. Some may be gone from this earth before the next Army-Navy game, adding their names to hallowed lists at West Point and Annapolis.

How important is this game? One morning as we stood at a morning Colors formation, the band ended with the ceremonial playing of Anchors Aweigh, followed by the Hymn. I was standing next to a Major who is an Annapolis graduate. As the band played Anchors Aweigh, Eddie, whispered to me, “I was 31 years old before I learned that the last words to that song are not ‘Beat Army.’”

How important to the Nation is the Game? Read this.

This morning they are comrades in arms. This afternoon, they will play their respective hearts out against each other . . .and then stand at attention for their own and their opponent’s alma mater. And each member of the team will know and sing his school’s song—how many players on other college teams can do that? And tonight they will once again be members of a bigger team. God bless ‘em all.

When he was Superintendent of the Military Academy, General Douglas MacArthur said of this game, “On this field of friendly strife is sown the seeds that on other days and other fields will bear the fruits of victory.”

SO, Gerry Owen, Army. Get up and get moving. Follow me.

Don’t give up the ship, Navy. Semper Fi.


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