On this day that we celebrate the independence of our country I thought I’d take a look at the history of the relationship between the University of Notre Dame and the United States Navy. As the daughter of a former naval officer myself I have always been intrigued by the long and storied history of ND and the US Navy. (Excerpts taken from Josh Flynt’s piece on the Fighting Irish Blog.)
The bond shared by Notre Dame and the United States Navy seems only natural. There is a shared admiration and reverence by those associated with Notre Dame for the dedication and service of the men and women in the armed forces. The familiar words “God, Country, Notre Dame” are inscribed above the east door of the Sacred Heart Basilica and they could very well serve as the unofficial motto of students and alumni. These three words are also the title of President Emeritus Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh’s autobiography.
During World War II, the Navy established a Navy College Training Program on Notre Dame’s campus, a decision that, according to Father Hesburgh, may have helped save the University. It boosted Notre Dame’s economic status and enrollment, saving the university from decline, amidst the ongoing war.
“We were out of business during World War II,” noted 1952-87 Notre Dame president Rev. Theodore Hesburgh in a 1992 interview with the South Bend Tribune. “Navy came in and kept us afloat until the war was over.”
Hesburgh then made a vow that under his watch the football series between the two schools would be kept as long as Navy wanted it continued. And to this day, Navy has never wanted to back out.
Since the days of the officer-training program, Notre Dame’s relationship with the U.S. Naval Academy has only grown stronger. The Navy ROTC unit is currently the largest on campus, and considered one of the top NROTC programs in the country.
As the daughter of a man who is not only a Loyal Son of Notre Dame, but also a former Naval officer, I greatly appreciate this relationship between ND and the US Navy. What could be better? Two of the things I love the most working hand-in-hand together.
Here is a fantastic video documenting the history of “God, Country, Notre Dame” …
May you have a blessed 4th of July holiday. Please remember those who served and gave their lives for our freedom and those who serve today.
Happy Independence day!