My initial impression of the 2016 Shamrock Series uniform was one of thankfulness. In the harsh glow of my iPhone, I liked mostly what I did not see.
They could have been so. much. worse. #ShamrockSeries
— Bayou (@HLS_BayouIrish) July 21, 2016
I am now in love with them. These uniforms capture Notre Dame’s deep connection to the game’s opponent, Army, while staying far away from pretending. Had the uniforms been camouflage to match today’s combat uniform, it could have been taken as parody or a child’s game of dress-up.
As it is, the uniforms are uniquely Notre Dame. In 2014, the Shamrock Series uniform was an homage to the Administration Building, with some of its architectural details and design features literally sewn into the uniform. For 2016, the uniform incorporates the Basilica’s east transept, the World War One Memorial, with the famous “God, Country, Notre Dame” phrase and distinctive lettering.
The memorial honors Notre Dame’s “gallant dead” in the First World War, which, for America, actively began 99 years ago. Notre Dame’s contribution to the fight was remarkable, with 2,500 students, faculty, and alumni serving and forty-six making the ultimate sacrifice. At the dedication of the memorial, University President Fr. Matthew Walsh, himself a veteran of the Western Front as a chaplin, noted that “[t]he list of 46 men represents the greatest death rate for the number of students enrolled of any college in the United States. [. . .]. When you look over that group you see the universality of it. Almost every race and nationality is represented.” Fr. Walsh continued, “We should imitate our dead in that they have shown us the lesson of patriotism. If only the people of America would follow their example there would be no discrimination because of race or creed.”
The uniform, to me, clearly honors not just the memorial, but the sacrifice of those 46 gallant dead in the colors and details. Take, for example, the cleats the players will wear in San Antonio. With the ascending two-tone design, to my eye they betoken the puttees and field service shoes of 1917. Puttees were worn by British and American soldiers, among those of other nations, and take their name from the Hindu word for “bandage.” They were tightly wrapped in spiral manner from ankle to knee to provide support on route marches.
The belt buckle channels the 1912 bronze wire buckle, which was maintained through subsequent uniform changes. The colors, too, the olive drab and yellow, are very similar to the colors on the soldiers’ uniforms in from 1910.
So I think Under Armour and the Irish have come up with a real winner, hitting a lot of wonderful tributes in this year’s Shamrock Series uniform.
In the “credit where credit is due department,” I took some of the images and information from David Cole’s Survey of U.S. Army Uniforms, Weapons, and Accoutrements, which you can find here. Also, Tom and Kate Hickey Family History features terrific photography.