Army vs. Navy approaches, and it's more than just football

Army meets Navy in their annual battle, a football war that has gone on since the late 19th century.

Same old, same old?

Not really.

This year's game will be moved from a neutral site to the banks of the Hudson River or more appropriately to West Point, N.Y.  The game will be waged in one of the most pristine, panoramic settings in college football, indeed in all of America.

Michie Stadium may not be adorned in the traditional fall colors of crimson, scarlet ocher, gold, and all the hues in between that define autumn.

No, the field will be decorated in late fall colors of sierra brown, gray, and tan.

Mid-December in the Hudson River Valley can be banal and foreboding.  Winter is nearing, but it's not a "dark winter," as Mr. Joe Biden assures us.

This Saturday will be different as the Gray Black and Gold of the Army Black Knights of the Hudson and deep blue and old gold of Navy Midshipmen will be the colors du jour.

The action and effort on the field will surely set the campus ablaze with passion, pride, and purpose.  It's a match-up that transcends the normal sports rivalry that is rich in American tradition, rich in American history, and rich in American culture.

The game is more than Roger Staubach and Joe Bellino.  It is much more than Felix "Doc" Blanchard, Glenn Davis, and Pete Dawkins.

It is more than TMZ posing for the cameras, nonstop gabbing to the press, preening in the endzone after a touchdown, or padding the stats to improve your stock in the NFL draft.

It is Robert Webster Cary, Franklin Van Valkenburgh C. Wade McClusky, and Wesley Brown.  It is Dwight D. Eisenhower, George Patton, and Douglas MacArthur and Henry Ossian Flipper.

The game honors and pays tribute to those American soldiers who volunteered or were drafted, fought and sweated, defended and bled and were shot and died — the ultimate price, sacrificing their lives for our freedoms, our rights, our way of life.

There will be, in typical academy style, pomp and circumstance celebrating college football, a tradition in its own right.  The cadets and midshipmen will parade and situate their side of the stadium, something of a rarity at Michie with Navy students monopolizing one side of the West Point field.  

Different?  Rare?  Weird?  Yes, but once kickoff comes, little will fans notice.

The importance is not just the game; rather, it is the memories, nostalgia for better days of the past and prayers for even better ones in the future.

They will come, be patient, vigilant, disciplined, hopeful, and humble.  Just like an Academy cadet or midshipman.