Normally this is one of my favorite days of the year….the annual Army/Navy football game. For those of you who don’t know, my father was a West Point graduate. He loves football and has always followed how his cadets were doing. (For the past decade, it hasn’t been too good.) Around 2004 I believe, I asked him if he could get three tickets to the game in Philadelphia. I said he should fly out from Michigan and we could take the train up with my buddy Eric and enjoy the day. He obliged and I attended my first Army/Navy football game.
It was incredible, truly one of the best days of my life. We met up with one of my buddy’s New Jersey family friends who had an RV and we engaged in an epic tailgate. Seeing the festivities for the first time, I was enthralled by the unity and respect those who attended the game showed for both Army and Navy as well as their fellow men and women in the stadium.
There were no unruly fans and no vulgar language, just cheers and tears for the armed forces and the commercials the midshipmen and cadets produced. I will never forget thinking I was part of something bigger than me, my father and my buddy.
Even though Army lost for the 3rd time in a row (my first time witnessing), I didn’t care. I can’t tell you one thing about the actual game, but I can remember the train ride up, the tailgate, the camaraderie in the stadium and the train ride back. (Thank you, conductor, for allowing me on even though I lost my ticket). Life is about memories and that was a great one!
My buddy and I have now gone to the game in 10 of the last 12 years. In the past, it has been played at the Rose Bowl, Yankee Stadium and Soldier Field. We have seen the game at Lincoln Financial in Philadelphia, M&T Stadium in Baltimore and FedEx Field in Washington, D.C. My father has made it out 3 more times, my father in law has made it to 3 as well. My buddy’s father has made it and countless friends of ours have witnessed this epic game. For those who have never attended, I truly believe this is a bucket list item.
Amazingly, last year, in Baltimore, my father made the trip and saw the first win by Army in 14 years! I definitely saw a tear in his eye after the game, and the grin on his face in the bitter cold was pretty cool to see.
Unfortunately, today I will not be at the game. This winter storm Benji has made the conditions along 95 a little tricky. We decided this morning not to risk getting stuck in the bad weather. (we do have families to think about now). I will be watching from my couch with close friends and family by the fire.
Army and Navy first met on the field on November 29, 1890. If you aren’t familiar with the rivalry I encourage you to brush up on the history here. This game is bigger than you and me. The symbolism of what these men playing their hearts out for us means should not be taken lightly. After they graduate, each of the young men playing will be putting their life on the line for us.
I truly respect and appreciate what each of the men and women in the armed forces does for us and this is a great day to recognize it. Thanks to all who serve, and…
Go Army….Beat Navy…for the second year in a row!