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Military Bowl an honor for teams

Dec. 15, 2013 @ 11:23 PM

HUNTINGTON — Making a bowl game is special for any team after a long regular season, but involvement for both Marshall and Maryland takes on another meaning with their bowl destination.

That’s because the Military Bowl is a truly unique experience for each team that brings the thrill of postseason competition together with life lessons and the involvement of something much bigger happening in our country.

The Military Bowl is not only the celebration of the success of the teams involved, but also the celebration of those who have sacrificed for the country.

“We appreciate everything that our military does for us and to be able to play in a game that’s going to support those members is something that’s very, very special,” Maryland coach Randy Edsall said.

Washington D.C. got its first bowl game in 2008 when the EagleBank Bowl rolled into the nation’s capital.

However, in 2010, Northrop Grumman took over as the title sponsor for the contest and the name was changed to the Military Bowl.

With Washington, D.C., serving as the nation’s capital, the bowl committee and sponsors all felt it appropriate that the game should be a representation of the heart of the city.

When Northrop Grumman took over as title sponsor, there was also a partnership formed with the United Service Organizations (USO), which is a non-profit organization whose members go around to enhance the lives of those serving the United State military in other countries.

The USO accomplishes this by organizing centers at military bases and providing entertainment and programs that enable the troops a much-needed taste of their home country while away protecting freedom in the United States.

The Military Bowl helps support the USO’s endeavors by using the bowl game as a way to say thank you. In addition to providing complimentary tickets for active-duty military personnel and their families, the bowl will donate at least $100,000 to the USO for their continued efforts in assisting military families.

Players from the teams will also be able to visit military families and take part in events centrally-related to the military life.

“We look forward to having all those military families come and enjoy the game and get a chance to visit with as many of them as we possible can,” Edsall said. “Again, I know our young men and our institution really appreciate what they do to give us the opportunities we have here in the United State of America.”

Edsall said that while he wants to make sure his team enjoys the trip because it is a reward for their work throughout the season, he still plans on using the bowl experience as a teaching tool for his players.

“It’s something that we will talk about to our team — about how grateful we are for everything that the military does for us, not only protect us, but to give us the freedom we have and opportunities we have here,” Edsall said.

The 2013 Military Bowl will be like no other before it with a venue change to the legendary Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Previously, the game was played at RFK Stadium.

Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium was built in 1959 to serve as a memorial for members of the Navy and Marine Corps who have fallen while protecting our freedom.

“I’ve had the opportunity and the privilege to play games in that particular stadium there in Annapolis where the game is going to be played,” Marshall coach Doc Holliday said. “There’s not a better setting in college football than what that setting will be.”

The stadium features chair-back memorial plates with the names of veterans while many more memorial plaques are located on the Memorial Plaque Wall in the North Memorial Plaza.

There are also battle arches and class arches which have been constructed to tell the stories of battle involving the Naval Services. These battle arches contain a history lesson on the left arch and a battle description on the right. Color-coded battle streamers allow visitors to chronologically view the stories.

The dedication plaque at the stadium reads, “This Stadium is dedicated to those who have served and will serve as upholders of the traditions and renown of the Navy and Marine Corps of the United States. May it be a perpetual reminder that the Navy and Marine Corps are organizations of men trained to live nobly and serve courageously in peace, champions of our integrity; in war, defenders of our freedom.”

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