As I write this I am watching one of the oldest traditional rivalries in college sports: the Army-Navy game. The game has received particular interest this year for a variety of reasons. First, the knowledge that the senior cadets and midshipmen will be likely placing themselves in “Harms Way” before next year’s game is evident in the number of wounded warriors who are rooting for their respective service in Philadelphia. Second, it is likely that both teams (and perhaps the Air Force Academy) might get Bowl bids this year. Third, ad perhaps this is a little cynical, people who have little knowledge of the service schools feel a sense of patriotism and troop support by watching the game and talking about it.
In my case I have a special affiliation. When I was growing up my birthday, October 27 was celebrated as “Navy Day”. This was because I shared the birth date with Teddy Roosevelt a Secretary of the Navy and the President who sent The Great White Fleet around the world. I had a little officer’s uniform and marched in the Mason City, Iowa Navy Day parade until I outgrew it. I also was expecting to go to the Naval Academy until my vision deteriorated in Junior High. I would later follow my father as a navy dentist and remain so until I retired with 31 years of service.
On one of my tours to Washington DC I was close enough to Annapolis to take advantage of the fact that I had a friend who was the senior dental officer at the Academy. My younger son was 15 and we went as a family to several home games. His older brother was in college but I seem to remember he was able to go to a game himself.
So, I am reminded that practically all of us are part of one or more traditions that bring fond memories. Please feel free to comment on any that are special to you.
Go Navy. Beat Army.