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It’s no accident that the University of Notre Dame and the U.S. Naval Academy met on the football field this past Saturday for the 89th consecutive season. It’s a game of mutual respect between two storied institutions.

And Danielle Green was selected to be the keynote speaker by Notre Dame’s ROTC leadership at the Notre Dame Pep Rally for this most storied of all rivalries.image001

You see Notre Dame had just lost their first game of the year vs. Clemson last week. Danielle Green, a noted Notre Dame alum, decided it was time for everyone in attendance to forget the past and focus on the next obstacle ahead – Navy. Speaking in front of thousands of fanatic Notre Dame students and alums Danielle triumphantly stated “If I can get up after being hit and losing an arm from a Rocket Propelled Grenade then obviously the Notre Dame football team can and will win against Navy.”

The crowd erupted in a roar and Danielle Green reinforced her image on the Notre Dame campus as the ultimate Notre Dame team player.

At every pre-game tailgate she visited, Danielle was the bashful and humble star. Admirers and well-wishers in the thousands were tailgating – they joyfully took time to thank her for her tremendous sacrifice and service to others. Students, players’ parents and alumni lined up for a picture with Danielle Green. She embodied what this rivalry game is all about: respect for our military, personal sacrifice and service to this great Nation of ours.

I was humbled and honored to have witnessed this outpouring of unconditional love. It was one of the greatest days of my life.” stated Impact A Hero founder Dick Lynch.

One person who had strong feelings about the Notre Dame vs. Navy football rivalry wasn’t around on Saturday. Former University president Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., died in February at age 97.

All I can say is without the Navy during the war (World War II), this institution would have gotten down to a few hundred students,” Father Hesburgh once said. “Instead of that, we were almost twice our normal size during the war, and we were able to contribute something to the Navy.

During World War II, as Notre Dame’s enrollment dropped to Depression-era size, the Navy’s decision to establish a Navy College Training Program on the South Bend campus in July 1943 provided much-needed economic relief and a surge of energy. Then, during the Vietnam era, as college administrations elsewhere restricted or abolished ROTC programs, Father Hesburgh’s insistence preserved the Navy presence on campus.

For the 89th game of the Notre Dame vs. Navy rivalry, the ROTC leadership at Notre Dame selected Danielle Green to be the face of mutual respect between two storied institutions.

A very special thank you to writer John Heisler for his historical writings/research on the Notre Dame vs. Navy rivalry.

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