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The President, Basketball, and Veterans Day

Author: Colonel Chad T. Manske, USAF, 2011-2012 Military Fellow, U.S. Air Force
November 11, 2011
San Diego Union-Tribune

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What do these three things have in common? How about a first-of-its-kind Veterans Day intercollegiate basketball game aboard a Navy aircraft carrier with President Barack Obama in attendance!

Dubbed the Carrier Classic 11-11-11, today's game will feature Michigan State vs. North Carolina before 7,000 fans aboard the carrier Carl Vinson anchored off Coronado in San Diego Bay. The 113,500-ton Carl Vinson and its company of approximately 3,200 sailors returned home to San Diego this past summer after a tour of duty in the Middle East. Ironically, the Carl Vinson is the same warship by which Osama bin Laden was transported and buried at sea after his death on May 2.

Thanks to an agreement between the Morale Entertainment Foundation and ESPN, which will televise the game, needed attention will be brought to the terms “dedication,” “service” and “sacrifice.” Why? For starters, tickets for the event will not be for sale but only available for a primarily military audience as a small token for their service and sacrifice.

The president's attendance at the game after laying a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery earlier in the day raises the profile of such a game even higher. It's no secret the president is a basketball fan. He recently needed 12 stitches in his lip after being elbowed during a pickup game. Additionally, his brother-in-law, Craig Robinson, is the head basketball coach of the Oregon State Beavers. Lastly, every year he publicly fills out his NCAA March Madness bracket during an ESPN special.

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