The Hudson River rolls tranquilly near Michie Stadium while Cadets march proudly on “The Plain” prior to kickoff. It’s the beginning of football Saturdays in West Point where history and tradition take center stage. This time-honored pregame march, known as the Cadet Review, attracts Army fans in mass as they salute our brave soldiers in uniform. Statues and monuments of iconic leaders adorn this military museum of a campus. Strolling its grounds also offers gothic influenced architecture along with picturesque views of the Hudson.
Outside Michie Stadium, the team makes its arrival led by the cheerleaders and the Army pep band known as the Rabble Rousers. Being in your seat at least 30 minutes prior to kickoff is required for celebrating some of the greatest traditions in college football. It begins with the March On, where hundreds of cadets parade onto the field in preparation for the National Anthem and flyover. As the cadet regiment shifts up into the stands, fans look skyward where West Point cadets leap from above and parachute down to deliver the game ball. The players then storm out of the tunnel to the tune of “On, Brave Old Army Team.” It is palpable pageantry that only this sport can deliver.
An Army score brings with it a few more notable traditions. While the massive crowd of cadets explodes with cheers, canons blast both inside the stadium and thunderously from across the Hudson River. Cadets flood the end zone to execute push-ups matching the point total. The militaristic flair gives every touchdown a tremendous exclamation point.
Army’s mule mascot is particularly unique and ideal for West Point. This sturdy and strong-willed animal served the Army for generations by hauling materials for soldiers. The first Army mule arrived on scene in 1899 when it was decided that Army needed something to oppose Navy’s goat mascot. As live mules are stationed on the sidelines, the costumed version struts and entertains. The mule continues to be an integral part of gameday and the history of the United States Military Academy.
Gathering for the alma mater during postgame is a treasured tradition. The Army team stands tall and faces the cadets in the stands to sing with pride. The song is punctuated with a rousing “BEAT NAVY!” This is the battle cry all season long as anticipation mounts for the annual Army-Navy battle in December. While rivals on the football field, Army, Navy, and Air Force are all interconnected by being part of the dedicated group of soldiers that serve and protect the United States of America.