How does a game between teams that will represent in the Poinsettia Bowl and the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl get the label of America’s Game? When the players leave the football field and head to the battlefield, that’s how. This weekend I attended the 111th meeting of Army versus Navy in Philadelphia. A game that is virtually meaningless in the BCS but means everything to the country as a whole.
The players in this game leave their respective military academies and head out into the world as Army, Navy, and Marine officers who know that their futures will lead them into harms way. Gone are the days when a person could leave and do an easy five years and enter into civilian life with a resume that included United States Military Academy or The Naval Academy and pegged them as a leader of men. Now, with uncertainty in the middle east and the United States still heavily involved in Afghanistan there is no such thing as an easy five. There is no guarantee that you come back at all.
That is why this game means so much. There is the pageantry of the cadets and midshipmen as they march onto the field. There are the “old grads” who come out and represent their respective school with a zeal that is unmatched. This game is a salute to everyone that has walked through those hallowed institutions as well as a welcome to the undergraduate classes that will soon become our nations next leaders. Among them no doubt are Generals and Admirals who will advise future Presidents and shape our military.
The game begins and Lincoln Financial Field is electric. Navy scores first but for the first time in years, Army keeps it close. Then there’s this….
and suddenly its cold and dark. We head out before the end of the third quarter and hear the fireworks as Army finally scores again in the fourth. For the ninth year in a row, Navy beats Army. But the rest of us, we all win.