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We treated them the way we would treat ourselves’

Lesley Stevenson | Monday, November 4, 2013

As the Blue Angels flew over Notre Dame Stadium and the final notes of the alma mater rang out, many students’ beliefs were confirmed: the atmosphere of the Notre Dame vs. Navy game would be unlike any other this season.
Sophomore Kim Mai said hearing the stadium fall silent for the Navy alma mater and witnessing the friendly camaraderie between the teams was the first time she had seen Notre Dame fans go out of their way to honor their opponents.
“We treated them the same way we would treat ourselves,” Mai said.
Senior Billy Raseman said the teams’ unity during both alma maters after the Irish victory summed up the history and significance of the Notre Dame-Navy relationship.
“I think it was pretty much embodied in the fact that we stopped and the whole stadium got quiet for their alma mater,” Raseman said. “There’s just a good deal of respect both ways in the fact that, yeah, Navy’s a football team but first they’re over there for their country.”
Meadow Jackson, midshipman fourth class in the Notre Dame Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) said she thought the ROTC midshipmen and Notre Dame student body respected the visitors because they understood that the game’s significance extended beyond the stadium.
“We won’t boo the team,” Jackson said. “Whether we win or lose, they’re still our comrades in arms from a ROTC perspective. We know that footbal is not the main goal of these students, and we respect them even more because of that.
“Football is just an extension of what [the Naval Academy midshipmen are] trying to do, which is develop themselves professionally to serve our country. We know that football is not the main goal of these students. The main goal is to protect and defend the people of the United States … we all have the common goal, just different ways of getting there.”
Midshipman third class Liz Hart, a Saint Mary’s student, said she and her friends replaced the less-than-respectful phrase of one Notre Dame cheer and instead shouted “Nice try, Navy! Go Irish, go!”
Hart said Notre Dame students invited midshipmen from the Naval Academy to stay in the dorms and experience a different collegiate environment.
“All weekend I’ve seen [the Naval Academy midshipmen] walking around campus,” Hart said. “I saw them staying in the dorms, and I know that a lot of the Notre Dame community was really open to them.”We’re all in the Navy but our college experiences are so different.”The Blue Angels’ flyover during the “Star Spangled Banner” drew thunderous cheers from the student body and praise from game-watchers later.
“That was the lowest flyover I think I’ve ever seen,” Raseman said. “It was sick.”
Hart said the flyover stood out as an exciting start to the game and as another way of bringing Notre Dame and Navy together.
“It was even more special because that was the first flyover since the sequester of the military and the government,” Hart said. “The fact that this was the first event that the Blue Angels came to was pretty awesome.”
Jackson said the event highlighted the historic relationship between the two schools.
“We know that the Blue Angels could be anywhere but I think they wanted to show the solidarity between Notre Dame and Navy and the tradition of this football game,” Jackson said.
“During World War II, Navy pretty much kept Notre Dame alive … by a ROTC program that allowed us to keep the university open yet also allow men to serve,” she said. “I think the game between Navy and Notre Dame is kind of a thank you to the Navy and a show of respect to that.”
Raseman, who is a member of the Notre Dame Glee Club, said he experienced the friendliness between Notre Dame and Navy three years ago when the group performed with the Naval Glee Club at a joint concert in New York.
“When we sang with them, we actually exchanged cufflinks,” Raseman said. “A bunch of guys still have the Navy ones, and they still wear them.”