Sunday, December 7, 2008

Army, Navy, Philly, and Bush

This past Saturday, my Dad and I enjoyed some quality father-daughter bonding time by huddling under his wool "N blanket" and cheering on Navy at the109th Army-Navy game in Philadelphia. For the uninitiated, Army-Navy (also called "America's Game" by the clever marketing people) is one sporting event which maintains the pure spirit of rivalry and respect between the Military and Naval Academies.

"America's Game" may not be such a trite term after all. Amid the duality of the opposing teams, the palpable honor and patriotism uniting all the game participants and attendees actually brought me to tears at times. There was complete silence for the blessing followed by a hearty "Amen", and there was a muted reverence followed by quiet singing of both the National Anthem and the academy alma maters.

The Super-Hornet and Blackhawk flyovers were, as ever, incredibly cool, as were the Golden Knights and the Navy SEAL parachute teams (which came in extremely fast!). However, the overpowering silences which gripped the entire Lincoln Financial Field were ultimately more impressive than any subsonic engine roar!


Now for the other memorable moments:

Driving past some low-income housing north of Wilmington, I saw a hand-painted sign in the front lawn depicting a black man dressed in a graduation gown holding the hand of a little girl. The message said: "I will study hard, I will stay in school, and some day I will be the U. S. President".

Meanwhile, the current U. S. President was in attendance at this year's game. He took the field for the coin toss (using the special coin of his office based on the Presidential Seal) and was escorted from the Army side to the Navy side during half time, flanked by a line of grey cadets and white-hat midshipmen. In spite of myself, I did get a little thrill seeing his suited figure standing for photographs with the referees and team captains.

The thrill of seeing Bush live was replaced with a feeling of absolute incredulity when, as he was leaving the field at the end of the game, the music (that somebody chose to accompany the close-up images of him) on the jumbotron was the chorus of Green Day's "Holiday". I kid you not.

That producer had balls!

Courage, however, is reserved for the cadets and midshipmen past and present.