Few of the players I'll be watching on Saturday are likely to get a call from Jerry Maguire. They won't be hearing an agent shouting, "Show me the money!" In fact, all the players on the gridiron here in Philadelphia have already been "recruited." And the outcome of the game on Saturday isn't going to alter their paychecks next year by a single cent. They will be playing in one of our greatest sports rivalries -- the 122 year-old contest between the United States Military Academy at West Point and the United States Naval Academy -- known more widely as The Army-Navy Game.
As the two teams take to the field, millions here in the United States will be watching on CBS. And around the world, tens of thousands more will be watching on the Armed Forces Network. Though officially frowned upon, wagers will be made aboard ships at sea, at lonely outposts in the shadows of the Hindu Kush and on U.S. military bases from Japan and the Korean peninsula to Europe and all the way to Mesopotamia. The seniors playing here won't be going to the NFL. Instead, many of them will go to war.
Within months of graduating, the cadets and midshipmen at these schools, and at the Air Force Academy and in ROTC and NROTC units across the country, will set aside their cleats and pads -- and don flak jackets, combat boots and flight suits. Unlike many of their civilian peers, these young Americans won't be looking for work. Instead, they will prepare to go into harm's way to defend our nation.
Since 2001, graduates of our military academies could be almost certain that they would see combat in their near future. While the commitment in Iraq is over and the number of troops in Afghanistan will be significantly diminished by 2014, the world is still not a safe place. The North Koreans are about to conduct another intercontinental ballistic missile test. The so-called "Arab Spring" has created a host of new dangers. Syria is in flames. Though Osama bin Laden is dead, radical Islamists are ascendant in Egypt, Libya, Lebanon, Mali, Gaza, Yemen and Bahrain. And worst of all, the hagiocracy ruling in Tehran is racing to acquire nuclear weapons.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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