There are few things in sports life like the pageantry of the Army/Navy college football game. For the 123rd time, the Midshipmen and Black Knights met on the gridiron this weekend.
While, one day, both sides will walk into battle alongside one another as Americans, on the first Saturday of December, they are enemies. The most traditional and enduring rivalry in college football is bigger than just a game.
Regardless of record, regardless of implications, Army vs. Navy means everything to both institutions. “Beat Navy” is echoed throughout West Point year-round as “Beat Army” reverberates across Annapolis 365 days a year.
On Saturday, it was yet another display of patriotism between Army and Navy that never fails to send chills down the spine.
Prior to kickoff, servicemen and women from each school march onto the field and then make their way into the stands. It’s called ‘the March On.’
The Black Knights went first.
The Midshipmen went second.
From there, members of the United States Military Academy and the United States Naval Academy choirs sing the national anthem as one.
And then the two teams take the field.
As Army runs out onto the field, they are accompanied by an apache helicopter flyover. For Navy, F-18s buzz over the stadium.
With kickoff near, the cadets were fired up. It was a raucous environment with a year’s worth of bragging rights on the line.
Despite the fact that neither the Black Knights nor the Midshipmen entered this year’s game with a winning record, the passion, the emotion, and the pageantry was on full display. Win, lose, or otherwise, during those 60 minutes, two groups of men who are willing to die for their country are focused on the right to sing second.
After the game, both schools sing their alma maters and the winning side sings second. It is an honor that carries weight beyond a victory or a loss.
This year, prior to the alma maters, both Army and Navy sang together. As did those watching in the stands.
Late in the fourth quarter, Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ played over the loudspeakers and the stadium joined together in full voice. It made for an incredible display of unity.
Entire stadium singing “Don’t stop Believing” pic.twitter.com/I0tqTALRJF
— David Malandra Jr (@DaveMReports) December 10, 2022
In the end, it was Army that got to sing last.
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