Saturday, December 13, 2014

Win First, Sing Second

Happy Ascension (12/13/14) Saturday! Call me a blasphemer if you must - I am OK with that as long as you DO NOT make Aretha Franklin aware of my transgression - but today is the final Ascension Day of this century.  Unless you have a plan to see January 2, 2103, it is the final one of your lifetime.  Do not waste it.  Huh, right about now your find yourself wishing that I had led off this paragraph with that advice.  If I had, then you would have missed out on five or six minutes of The Blues Brothers Movie.  Go ahead, click on the link now if you have not done so already.  I am confident that you will catch up with the rest of the group.  

Ready to continue?  Fantastic...

Today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Cadets of the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York shall travel south to meet the Midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy with the latter traveling to Philly from Annapolis, Maryland for the 115th Army-Navy Game. These two service academies have played one another in football annually since 1930 and their game marks the end of the college football regular season.  

While it certainly seems as if Navy wins every year - and the Midshipmen arrive in Philadelphia this afternoon riding a twelve-game winning streak, the all-time series is actually fairly even.  Prior to the current Navy streak, in fact, the Cadets held the upper hand overall.  Now, the tally stands at 58-49-7 in favor of the Naval Academy.  

In the thirteen autumns since the September 11 attacks on the United States, ninety-five graduates of the United States Military Academy have been killed in action in either Iraq or Afghanistan.  Sixteen graduates of the United States Naval Academy have been killed in action in those locales.  

Included among those 111 casualties of war is 1st Lieutenant Stephen Chase Prasnicki, West Point Class of 2010 and a member of the football team as first a reserve quarterback and, thereafter, a defensive back.  1st Lieutenant Prasnicki was killed in action in Afghanistan on June 27, 2012.  Upon graduating from West Point in 2010, he became an Army Ranger.  He had been married for seven months at the time of his death.   

Keeping sad company with 1st Lieutenant Prasnicki is Lt. (SEAL) Brendan J. Looney.  Lt. Looney graduated from the Naval Academy in 2004, the first of three Looney sons to do so.  He had originally arrived on campus intending to play football, which he did for a couple of seasons.  However, in 2002, he was introduced to lacrosse, which he took to with great ability and aplomb.  In his senior season - 2004 - he and his two younger brothers all played together for the Academy.  Lt. Looney was killed in action in Afghanistan on September 21, 2010 - along with eight other American servicemen - when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed.  And as if the circumstances under which Lt. Looney died needed an additional layer of tragedy, he was scheduled to return to the United States on October 2, 2010.  

I know not whether I shall watch all of the Army-Navy game this afternoon but I shall make it a point to watch at least some of it - and shall try to catch the end of it.  One of the incredible traditions of this game is that at its conclusion, both teams stand before their respective student bodies as each Academy's Alma mater is played.    Tradition dictates that the team that loses the game must sing first

It has been a long time since the Cadets have won the right to sing second.  Will they earn that right this afternoon?  I know not.  I do know however that every man on both teams knows that irrespective of what happens this afternoon on the gridiron, should he need it in the future, he can call upon each of his brothers in arms to assist him...


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