[Note: This article was written originally for Townhall.com]
Those of you who know me know fall is always my favorite time of year. I’m one heckuva college football fan. Sadly, my Tennessee Volunteers recently went down to our in-state rivals, Vanderbilt. But that’s what you have to love and admire about college football — the odds NEVER make sense, and the passion of young men on the field can win the day over the statistics.
These contests against particular rivals bring out our most passionate emotions for four to five hours. But in the end, we all come together — perhaps after taking a ribbing for losing.
But there is one game, reserved for its own very special day at the end of the college football season, which is one of the greatest of rivalries. It is a game that has earned the moniker, “America’s Game.” It is Army versus Navy.
The first Army-Navy game was played on November 29, 1890 and it has been renewed annually since 1899 except for the years 1909, 1917, 1918, and 1929. The game normally decides the winner of the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. Right now, Navy enjoys the longest winning streak in the series; 14 consecutive victories — and as a Soldier, well, that one hurts. Tomorrow, it will be the 117th playing of this game. Even though I’m not a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, and have never attended an Army-Navy game, I’m an American Soldier. On that day, I am a Black Knight of the Hudson.
I remember when I was a Captain in the First Infantry Division, one of my Lieutenants was on the West Point football team that upset the Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville. Of course, he didn’t let me forget that, and I still gave him a favorable efficiency report. When I resided in South Florida, it was as if every former Naval officer had retired there. The abuse was incessant, and lasted all year long.
See, for that period of time, and the homemade commercials attest to such, these two services are the most vehement of adversaries. We live by a simple chant, “Go Army, Beat Navy,” and vice versa. On that playing field, young men pour their hearts out to win more than a game; to win that claim to fame. Living here in Dallas now, I recall the time when I was invited into the home of Roger Staubach and actually saw the Heisman Trophy he was awarded when he was quarterback at the Naval Academy. The point is that we don’t have to have attended either of these fine institutions to have an affection, and strong emotion, for this contest.
And it is a hard-fought contest indeed. From the time you have the march onto the field of the Corps of Cadets and the Midshipmen, American’s chest fills with pride. They fight hard, but in the end, one will be victor, the other loser — and we Soldiers are tired of losing. However, something very indicative of America happens at the end of the game. Each school stands in reverence as the Academy song is played, winner goes last. But even more so, these rivals, these ardent adversaries will one day take an oath, “To support and defend the Constitution of the United States, against all enemies, foreign, and domestic…and to bear true faith and allegiance to the same.” These gridiron warriors then become American Warriors. They never forget their years at West Point or Annapolis as a defining moment in their character development. But they realize that they are Brothers and Sisters on a greater team: Team America. And so they take their positions, jointly, upon freedom’s rampart to serve and protect our way of life, and the very document that embodies us as Americans. Sure, every year they will take their respective sides on the esteemed day of Army-Navy. But they will NEVER lose focus on the battlefield upon which they serve together.
Just like an Army-Navy game, this election was fought with immense passion and emotion. And it’s now time for us to realize that we are all on Team America.
That’s an important lesson for the Democrat party to embrace at this time. If anyone thinks we Soldiers like the results of the past fourteen years, losing to Navy, we don’t. However, we lick our wounds, bandage up our pride and know that we have earned a title that can never be taken away, that of American Soldier. The real victory comes not just in a game, but in the preservation of this Constitutional Republic.
Those who call themselves Democrats, actually progressive socialists, must ask themselves the same question. Is this about the preservation of our Republic, or just the desire to win? All of these protests, challenges to our electoral system, and calls for recounts seem ill-advised, especially as the results are known, and concession has been offered.
Imagine what would happen at the end of the Army-Navy game if the Cadets of West Point decided not to stay on the field while the Navy song is played? We, as a Nation, would be appalled at the lack of decency, honor, integrity, humility, and grace. If those young men and women, who are the best amongst us, can do just that, why can’t the Democratic party? Unless they are admitting that they do not possess those same impeccable standards of character.
Tomorrow, every young man who will be on that field is a champion. These young men and women are our future leaders and they represent a lineage; a legacy of service, sacrifice, and commitment to this Nation. The players’ uniforms will have the patches of Army, Navy, and Marine Corps units. The back of the Army jerseys do not have a name; it just says “Army.”
Tomorrow, I believe that every American worldwide should be watching one program: the Army-Navy game. Watch it with your kids, and teach them its history, knowing that we can all learn a lesson from these men and women as they play “America’s Game.”