Before I was born, I was a Notre Dame Football fan. My dad loved the Irish and all of his 5 daughters love the Irish also. I could go on and on with stories of us cheering for the team – making “tunnels” so it looked like they were running through us as they came onto the field, having noise makers, banging pots and pans – even my father telling the priest on New Year’s Eve that they mass had to be over in 40 mins because that would get us home in time to watch ND vs Texas in the ’78 Cotton Bowl.
This weekend presents a big challenge for me. Notre Dame plays Navy as they do every year. It is a huge dilemma for me – my beloved Fighting Irish or the Midshipman of the Naval Academy? My dad also faced this same dilemma every year. He was a Marine (Korea) along with his 2 brothers (WWII and Korea). My Uncle, his brother-in-law, (Korea) and cousin served in the Navy. I also had the great privilege of living in Virginia Beach, VA for 9 years. This huge and powerful military area allowed me to make many good and life-long friends who served in the Navy.
Adding to this quandary, Navy actually saved Notre Dame during World War II. Most of the men from Notre Dame were fighting the war causing ND to almost close because they had so few students. Without Navy, Notre Dame may not still exist. In 1943, Notre Dame offered all of its facilities to the Navy and Navy began sending men, thus saving the University of Notre Dame. At the same time, ND was able to offer support to the war efforts and to the Navy.
Notre Dame has never forgotten Navy’s kindness and support in its time of dire need. In fact, in the 1950s and 60s when colleges across the country were ending their ROTC programs, Notre Dame stood by Navy and allowed its University to serve as a base for college naval recruits.
To honor this relationship, Notre Dame promised to play Navy every year for as long as Navy wanted. The mutual respect is evident on the field during and after the game. Each team will travel to the opponents’ end zones to stand and honor their alma mater.
Who will I cheer for????? Go Navy beat Irish! Go Irish beat Navy!