You are currently viewing the printable version of this article, to return to the normal page, please click here.

NORTH: Army-Navy game features future heroes

Brief rivalry highlights military best

Story Topics
Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

View results

Philadelphia, PA -- For most football fanatics, this is the time of year for watching the big conference championship games and wondering whether their favorite college team is going play in a major postseason bowl. Many of the players in these contests will be hoping to shine for the NFL scouts looking to recruit new talent. That's not the case this weekend.

Few of the players I'll be watching on Saturday are likely to get a call from Jerry Maguire. They won't be hearing an agent shouting, "Show me the money!" In fact, all the players on the gridiron here in Philadelphia have already been "recruited." And the outcome of the game on Saturday isn't going to alter their paychecks next year by a single cent. They will be playing in one of our greatest sports rivalries -- the 122 year-old contest between the United States Military Academy at West Point and the United States Naval Academy -- known more widely as The Army-Navy Game.

As the two teams take to the field, millions here in the United States will be watching on CBS. Around the world, tens of thousands more will be watching on the Armed Forces Network. Though officially frowned upon, wagers will be made aboard ships at sea, at lonely outposts in the shadows of the Hindu Kush and on U.S. military bases from Japan and the Korean peninsula to Europe and all the way to Mesopotamia. The seniors playing here won't be going to the NFL. Instead, many of them will go to war.

Within months of graduating, the cadets and midshipmen at these schools, and at the Air Force Academy and in ROTC and NROTC units across the country, will set aside their cleats and pads for flak jackets, combat boots and flight suits. Unlike many of their civilian peers, these young Americans won't be looking for work. Instead, they will prepare to go into harm's way to defend our nation.

Since 2001, graduates of our military academies could be almost certain that they would see combat in their near future. While the commitment in Iraq is over and the number of troops in Afghanistan will be significantly diminished by 2014, the world is still not a safe place. The North Koreans are about to conduct another intercontinental ballistic missile test. The so-called "Arab Spring" has created a host of new dangers. Syria is in flames. Though Osama bin Laden is dead, radical Islamists are ascendant in Egypt, Libya, Lebanon, Mali, Gaza, Yemen and Bahrain. Worst of all, the hagiocracy ruling in Tehran is racing to acquire nuclear weapons.

That's not much different than it was when my classmates and I graduated from Annapolis, West Point and Colorado Springs in 1968. As we tossed our hats in the air, there were two things we knew for certain: the war in Vietnam awaited, and it had bitterly divided our nation.

By the time we reported to our first duty stations, the anti-war movement had become an anti-military movement. Returning heroes -- Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Guardsmen and Marines -- weren't being welcomed home to the cheers of our countrymen. Our wives and families didn't dare put bumper stickers on their cars proclaiming pride that they had a loved one serving in uniform. The treatment the veterans of Vietnam received was simply despicable.

That's why, when Operation Desert Shield -- "Gulf War I" -- began 22 years ago, Lieutenant General Ed Bronars, USMC (Ret.) and I founded Freedom Alliance -- an organization dedicated to fostering, honoring and supporting the men and women of our armed forces. We were adamant that what happened to those who served in Vietnam should never happen again. That commitment remains inviolate.

Freedom Alliance programs support those who serve with financial grants, gifts from home, hospital visits, hero holidays and hero hunts for those recovering from the wounds of war. Whenever possible, family members are included in these events. Thanks to my Fox News colleague Sean Hannity and thousands of generous Americans, more than 230 children of service members killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty are receiving college scholarships this year.

The Army-Navy game provides an opportunity for us to thank our supporters, invite hurt heroes to an iconic event and remind our scholarship recipients that their fallen parent will never be forgotten. This year, on the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, Freedom Alliance pays tribute to veterans of that conflict with a special guest: Medal of Honor recipient Sammy Davis.

This gridiron contest in Philadelphia is more than a sporting event. It's a celebration of selfless service for those who place themselves at risk, not on a football field but on the battlefield. For three hours or so, the teams and their fans will treat the opposition as it greatest foe. But when the game is over, they're all back on the same team -- the brightest and best-educated, trained and equipped military force the world has ever known.

Oliver North is the host of "War Stories" on Fox News Channel, the founder and honorary chairman of Freedom Alliance, and the author of "Heroes Proved" (Threshold Editions, 2012).

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks
You Might Also Like
  • Maureen McDonnell looks on as her husband, former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, made a statement on Tuesday after the couple was indicted on corruption charges. (associated press)

    PRUDEN: Where have the big-time grifters gone?

  • This photo taken Jan. 9, 2014,  shows New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gesturing as he answers a question during a news conference  at the Statehouse in Trenton.  Christie will propose extending the public school calendar and lengthening the school day in a speech he hopes will help him rebound from an apparent political payback scheme orchestrated by key aides. The early front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination will make a case Tuesday Jan. 14, 2014, that children who spend more time in school graduate better prepared academically, according to excerpts of his State of the State address obtained by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    BRUCE: Bombastic arrogance or humble determination? Chris Christie’s choice

  • ** FILE ** Secretary of State Hillary Rodham testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador J. Chris Stevens and three other Americans. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

    PRUDEN: The question to haunt the West

  • Get Breaking Alerts