I hear there is a football game coming up this weekend.

I got on ESPN to read some of the smack talk being thrown around and saw something I hadn’t expected. Sure, there were the usual word slaps being posted back and forth, but over and over I read posts that said something like, “All year long I root for Navy (or Army), except for this game.”

Having just returned from Kuwait and Iraq, I think I understand. The storied rivalry is still one of the best in the nation and probably always will be. But there was a respect that came out in those posts, perhaps a reflection of the respect for the other service that emerges in time of war. I felt it in Southwest Asia, and I saw it on the internet in posts written by the fans of both sides.

I guess it shouldn’t surprise me. After all, when the game is over, both teams stand side-by-side to sing the alma maters of both services as a sign of mutual respect. That is a pretty powerful image for the nation to digest each year.

The game is a tradition that dates back to 1890. The rivalry is old, but that doesn’t temper the excitement as game day approaches. Rather, it seems to intensify it.

Both sides will cheer on their respective services with everything they have, and when the game is over they will shake hands knowing that some of them will never play again.

But the respect lingers long after the last whistle is blown.

Go Navy – Beat Army!


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