By Izabella Kubiak/New Mexico News Port
On Nov. 4, the UNM Lobos faced the UNLV Rebels at home and suffered a devastating conference loss of 56-14 during UNM’s ‘Military appreciation game.’ The military appreciation night kicked off with a presentation of colors by the UNM Airforce and Army ROTC programs.
Francisco Toledo, a 15-year Navy veteran, presented the colors for the game alongside his fellow cadets. Toledo said that military appreciation is important to remember those who answered the call to service.
“It gives a chance to honor those people that have served and put their lives on the line, so we can have events like this,” said Toledo.
Toledo believes showing appreciation for the military is important because it helps honor those who choose to serve.
“It’s extremely important to show gratitude to the people that had to leave their families behind, not knowing they would come back, and making the ultimate sacrifice so we can enjoy freedom on a day like this,” Toledo said.
During the game, UNM asked the Navy to conduct a “fly-over” with ‘Seahawks’ (Navy helicopters). Navy Lieutenant Jesse Holton, who was a part of the helicopter fly-over, was impressed with the way UNM handled the homage to military members.
“So far (the game) has been excellent,” said Holton, “Service members, a lot of them, have very tough jobs. Sometimes it might be hard to see those benefits, so appreciation from the general public keeps us motivated.”
UNM ROTC cadets kept spirits high in the student section by cheering on the Lobos and active military members.
“I think the Albuquerque community has a lot of pride in the armed services, and you know, everyone here wants them (the military) to know they are appreciated,” Cadet James Villanueva, with UNM’s Army ROTC program, said.
Airforce and Navy cadets accompanied Villanueva and did push-ups each time the Lobos scored during Saturday’s game.
UNM also invited soldiers to watch the game on the sidelines, so the Navy and Army soldiers mixed during the game.
Isaiah Chavez, a student and athlete at UNM, had a favorite part of the military appreciation: the fly-over and UNM band half-time show.
“I think the fly-over was great,” said Chavez, “I think we have done a pretty good job at representing the military today.”
Military members and students were not the only ones impressed with UNM’s effort to support the military.
A UNM anthropology professor, Ian Wallace, thought UNM did an exceptional job at representing and thanking the military on Saturday.
“Well, I think in the same way that football players need to have fans in order to motivate them, and the military, in the same way, needs to know that they have fans and people support them,” Wallace said.
The UNM marching band commemorated each branch by playing the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine branch songs.
UNM also held a ‘swearing in’ ceremony at the game with the New Mexico National Guard. Fans had the opportunity to watch new soldiers be ‘sworn in’ by raising their right hands and reciting the Army’s Oath of Enlistment.
Isaiah Chavez thinks most fans are excited to watch the Lobo’s last game this season.
“I think most fans want to come to the games and cheer on the Lobos,” said Chavez. “It motivates the team seeing people fill the stands.”