The Troy University Trojans took on the Navy Midshipmen Saturday at Veterans Memorial Stadium, the first time Troy has ever hosted a service academy. This game, though, was about more than football.
The Navy vs. Troy game falls on the 237th birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps, and the weekend before Veterans Day, and Troy used the opportunity to honor the nation's military.
That included the reading of 1,700 names of fallen soldiers, part of a national initative to call the names of all the country's service members killed in action.
William Tyler Staub, the ROTC Cadet Recruiting Officer who organized the ceremony, said it was emotional for everyone. "You're sitting there and you're reading the names and you're thinking that every single person on there has given everything. I mean, we can have fun, we can have parades, and we can raise money for this and that, but when you really think about those who have given every single thing they have it's a way different experience," he said.
The university also held a birthday celebration for the Marine Corps, complete with the traditional cake and cutting ceremony. Keith Hendrick, a veteran, traveled from Atlanta to watch his son, a cheerleader for Navy. He called the tributes "moving". "It means that we have a great country and we can support it and as our military goes around the world, supporting that, that's what it means to me, and it's just an honor to have been a part of it, and continue to be a part of it," he said.
John Fortie, a Naval Academy alum, spent the day tailgating with friends and fellow sevice members. "We don't get together much, to be honest. You serve 20 years in the Marine Corps, you don't get a lot of time to go back to the Naval Academy, so this is, to be honest, one of our reunions right here," he said.
The Troy ROTC cadets also gave $50,000 in scholarships to help families of military members killed in the line of duty. The "Troy for Troops" program has raised more than $300,000 since it began. If you would like to donate, visit the website.