Notre Dame and Navy: an uncommon bond

For more than three quarters of a century, Notre Dame’s football schedule has included a game against the US Naval Academy. Beginning in 1927, the ND-Navy is the longest uninterrupted inter-sectional series in college football. Going into the 2007 game, the Irish had a 43 game winning streak. Navy’s last win previously was in 1963, the year Roger Staubach won the Heisman Trophy.But that all changed in 2007: Navy beat Notre Dame, 46-44, in three overtimes. And last Saturday, for the second time in three years, the Middies stunned the Irish, 23-21. But the story of this rivalry is more than on the field competition. Fans consider the series a sacred tradition for historical reasons.Notre Dame faced severe financial difficulties during World War II. The US Navy made Notre Dame a training center and paid for the usage of the facilities with federal tax money to keep the University afloat. Notre Dame then extended an open invitation for Navy to play the Irish in football and the game is considered, by Notre Dame, an annual repayment on a debt of honor. The series is marked by mutual respect, evidenced by each team standing at attention during the playing of the other’s alma mater after the game, a tradition that started four years ago.The series is now scheduled to continue indefinitely. It is a fitting tribute especially during Veteran’s Week as celebrated by our country.