Thanks to Lucianne for directing us to this moving account of President Bush’s attendance at the Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia yesterday: “Bush in Phila. as a football fan.” The Philadelphia Inquirer reports:
It took a moment for people in the stands to realize who the distant figure in the blue overcoat was when Bush appeared on the Navy sideline an hour before game time, surveying the players limbering up, but the crowd of nearly 70,000 roared when his image flashed on the jumbo TV screens.
“God bless you, Mr. President!” a group of fans shouted as he walked through the east end zone to visit the Army side.
Below is a photo showing the president among the Navy partisans before the game.
President Bush also visited the Army team locker room before the game:
“Listen, good luck today,” Bush told the Army team kneeling in ranks in the visitors’ locker room before the game. “I know you’re going to play hard, but I’m here to tell you thanks for serving your country. I’m proud that you decided to serve the great United States of America. We need your character; we need your class. God bless you all.”
Navy won, 42-13, finishing the regular season with nine wins for the first time since 1963.
When Bush visited the Navy locker room, he walked through a doorway framed by jerseys of three former players killed in Iraq: Ron Winchester, J.P. Blecksmith and Scott Zellem.
The quotes here are only a few of the story’s highlights. Every detail in the story resonates deeply.
UPDATE: Reader and Army fan John Tallman writes:
I have a tidbit to add a little to your Army-Navy story. I was at the game yesterday for my 13th Army-Navy game and you rarely see cadets and midshipmen chanting in unison. However, at every point when the President was shown on the Jumbotron or at each instance when he was on the field (for the cointoss and when he switched sides) the cadets and midshipmen chanted “4 More Years.” It was indeed a nice scene to be a part of, despite the Navy victory.
MORE: We have received two messages suggesting that the photo of President Bush above is photoshopped. Below is the AP version of a similar shot by Susan Walsh that is available on Yahoo here.
The AP caption reads: “President Bush, back center, poses with a group of Navy cheerleaders prior to the start of the Army-Navy football game, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2004 in Philadelphia. This game marks the 105th edition of the inter service rivalry, and the 77th game to be played in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)” Yahoo has also posted many other beautiful shots from the game yesterday here.