Football and flag waving at West Point

From Di’s eyes: I cycled around West Point a few years ago and found the campus to be a beautiful and peaceful place, belying what they teach there. Another terrific stop in the area is Storm King Art Center, a huge sculpture park in Mountainville, NY.   

“Where they Went” by Diane Daniel
(Published March 1, 2009, in the Boston Globe)

Bill and Diane Reilly (left), and Rachel and Jim Farley in the Michie Stadium at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Bill and Diane Reilly (left), and Rachel and Jim Farley in the Michie Stadium at the US Military Academy at West Point.

WHO: Bill and Diane Reilly,  of Lynn, Mass., and Jim and Rachel Farley of Peabody, Mass.

WHERE: West Point, N.Y.

WHEN: Two days in October.

WHY: To visit the United States Military Academy  and attend a football game.

EAGLE-EYED: The couples, who have traveled together for two decades, had originally hoped to see Boston College  play Army. “Jim is an avid Boston College sports fan, so the original plan was that the next time BC played Army, we’d go there. But then Army dropped BC from its football schedule,” Bill Reilly said.

The traditional cadet review at West Point

The traditional cadet review at West Point

FOLIAGE CALLED: They decided to go anyway, and picked Columbus Day weekend for peak foliage in the Hudson River Valley. It happened that Army would face Eastern Michigan. “It was easy to get tickets online, but what was hard was finding a place to stay because it was homecoming weekend,” Reilly said. They found rooms in Newburgh, about 15 miles north of West Point.

FABULOUS FORMATION: They left home at 4:30 a.m. on game day, and reached the Academy some four hours later. They headed to the traditional cadet review. “They marched in front of a reviewing stand all in dress uniforms and carrying their weapons while the Army band  plays. There are two brigades, about 2,200 total in the formation. It was very moving to see.”

Member of the US Army Parachute Team carries the American flag

Member of the US Army Parachute Team carries the American flag

FLAGS IN FLIGHT: The highlight, Reilly said, was a jump by eight members of the US Army Parachute Team, known as the Golden Knights. “First there was a helicopter, just a speck in the sky, and then eight paratroopers jumped from the sky. They were corkscrewing, with smoke trails behind them. It’s pretty impressive. One of them was carrying the American flag, and it was blowing in the breeze, and another had an Army flag. It was very patriotic.”

LOOKING BACK: Before the game the couples toured the campus of granite buildings situated alongside the Hudson River and visited the West Point Museum, which specializes in military history. “I wish we’d had more time to look around there. I’m a history guy.”

Diane Reilly (left) and Rachel Farley look at memorial marker

Diane Reilly (left) and Rachel Farley look at memorial marker

STORIED STADIUM: Reilly said Jim Farley was especially thrilled to see a game at Army’s famed Michie Stadium. “Before the game about 1,000 cadets march into the field all dressed in white. They line up and then the national anthem is played and they all salute the flag. At the command to dismiss, they go to the seats together, but they stand during the whole game. Sometimes they’d throw some of the smaller cadets up in the air and catch them.”  The couples cheered for the host Black Knights, who won, 17-13.

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