By Story and photos by Master Sgt. Dean Welch, Dir. of Public Affairs & CommunicationsDecember 9, 2009
Choosing a side to cheer for during the past two years of Army-Navy football was a lot easier for the Benson family than this year's game.
With a son, Granger, at the U.S. Naval Academy, the family's allegiance was soundly behind the midshipmen. But when youngest son, Everett, arrived on the banks of the Hudson River in June, choosing sides became more difficult for Mom and Dad.
When the two schools met in Sprint Football earlier this semester, Mom dressed in Army colors and Dad wore the blue and gold of Navy.
Saturday, in Philadelphia, Pa., for the 110th playing of the storied rivalry, their wardrobe is a topic of conversation.
"I joke with my friends that I am going to try and find a sweatshirt from both schools and sew them together so I can show spirit for each side," Claire Kimmel said.
Her husband, Tracey Benson, is keenly aware that when the couple goes to dinner on Friday night with Granger and another midshipman, his oldest son will make note of the Army lapel pin he now wears alongside his one from Navy.
The Bellefonte, Penn., lawyers said in a phone conversation that when people find out they have a son at each academy they inevitably ask where they will sit for the game.
This year it will be on the Army side of Lincoln Financial Field, but only because they needed more tickets for family and ended up buying their tickets from a West Point faculty member. Their original seats were bought through Navy and on the Navy side.
Both brothers chose their schools at a young age.
Everett said that as a first- or second-grader he dreamed of attending West Point. Granger took a little longer, waiting until he was 17 years old to announce his college choice.
"We picked him up from swim camp at the Naval Academy and he climbed in the car and said 'I'd like to go here,'" Tracey said.
Granger wrote in an e-mail that he tried to sway his brother to Annapolis during his first two years there, but the pull of the Point won out.
"I brought him down for a weekend last fall and tried everything to influence his decision," Granger, who hopes to be a Marine officer, said. "But in the end, I knew that attending West Point and being in the Army had been his dream since he was very young."
Claire said that even though Everett knew he wanted to go to West Point, they made him apply to Navy as a fall back. He received an appointment there as well, but it was always going to be West Point.
"It is just the perfect fit for him," she said.
The rivalry is more than Army versus Navy, it is brother versus brother.
Granger wrote that he "can't even bear to ride" in his mother's car because there's a West Point sticker on it. Although his father points out that "if you go to the other side there's a Navy sticker."
"We try to keep it pretty much equal," Tracey said.
What hasn't been equal is Navy's dominance the last seven years.
With those victories the older brother has a firm hold on bragging rights.
"I really can't get through a major holiday, or seeing him at all, without him reminding me that Navy has won seven straight Army-Navy football games," Everett said.
"I give Everett such a hard time," Granger, who served as a sprint football videographer, said. "I think a [Navy] win this weekend will render him speechless for Christmas leave."
Both boys are confident that their team will win the nationally-televised game.
One will leave disappointed, but the weekend is more about family than football.
"We realize that when Granger graduates (in 2011) there are going to be very limited chances where we will all be together as a family," Everett said. "So each opportunity is special."
Mom is going to take advantage of the fact of having both her sons in uniform to add to the family photo album.
"I don't have a photo with them where both are in uniform yet," she said. "So that is going to be a very important moment for me this weekend."