Monday, November 12, 2012

Game Day at West Point

 Game day always starts out with a parade.  West Point parades are so impressive.  On this day, it was First and Second Regiments that participated in the Pass and Review.  The cadets march out onto the Plain through the sally ports in Central Area. 
 In addition to the Class of 1982, the Class of 1977 was also there.  Whenever there is a reunion, the alumni are the reviewers.  They "march" out onto the parade field to take their positions in a much more casual way than they would have as cadets--ambling out and joking around. 

We had an early lunch at 1000 because the game was starting at noon.  We ate in Washington Hall which is the Cadet Mess.  Since we were eating in their mess hall, they were having tailgate parties at their barracks.  Washington Hall is absolutely beautiful.  There are cut glass and stained glass windows all throughout the building.  There is also a mural in one wing of the hall.   Lots of flags too--they are everywhere.  The hall seats the entire Corps of Cadets--approximately 4400 students--all at the same time.  They eat family style and have jobs assignments.  We played out some of the roles like table captain and gunner although not in the same way that the cadets would have.  I was the gunner cutting dessert.  For instance--I think I would have got in a lot of trouble if I was a cadet because my cake portions weren't anywhere near even.  And I didn't do the announcement and inspection of my job to the table captain like I would have had to as a cadet.  I read that this is what they have to say--"SIR/MA'AM, THE DESSERT HAS BEEN CUT. DESSERT TO CADET _____ FOR INSPECTION PLEASE, SIR/MA'AM."  And the cold beverage server and the hot beverage server has to say something similar.

 The guys always like to go to their old barracks to check it out.  It is a little strange.  We're not always sure we are allowed to be there.  Although someone at our table this year said that if we wanted to see the barracks, we had to be out by 1100.  So I guess it is okay during a certain time.  When the guys lived there, it was called Central Barracks.  It was named after Omar Bradley after he passed away.  The plebes were calling the minutes to football formation while we were there.  They were droning them out--apparently doing them much differently than the old guys did it while they were there.  So they had to give them a bit of a hard time.  Nothing like being harassed by middle-aged Firsties.

On the way up to Michie Stadium, we made a stop at the Cadet Chapel to take a breathing break.  There are a whole lot of steps going up there from Central area and it is only half way up to the stadium.  I was glad we stopped there for a bit.  We usually have the memorial service there but it was at the Catholic chapel instead this year.  Again--another wonderful example of Gothic architecture and stained glass windows the whole length of the chapel.

 The game was against Ball State.  There is a lot of pageantry that surrounds an Army football game.  Third Regiment did the March On.  The mules have been part of Army tradition forever.  The cheerleaders are called "Rabble Rousers" and the Rocket cheer is the most traditional one.  And every game ends with singing the alma mater.  Unfortunately, the skydiving team didn't make the jump into the stadium because of weather.  The West Point band did a fun Halloween half time show in costume which was different.  Not their usual squared performance.

There was a new twist that I had never seen before.  Several of the players prayed in the end zone before the first and second half of the game.  Unfortunately, it didn't help.  Ball State won 30-20.

The next weekend Army beat Air Force at West Point.  I was a little jealous to miss them beating Air Force but I am not certain that we would have enjoyed being in New Jersey and New York in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.  We were so grateful that we were able to leave before the storm and get home safely but certainly prayed for the people left behind that had to endure the weather and destruction.  As I write this, I know there are people who are still suffering and trying to pick up the pieces of their lives.  Prayers their way!

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