A sea of red, white and blue shirts may replace the traditional school colors at this yearâ??s classic football rivalry game between Traverse City West and Central High Schools. The two schools will use the game to honor northern Michigan veterans and soldiers who have been killed in recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Central/West game, scheduled for September 28
, will be dubbed The First Annual T.C. Patriot Game. Commemorative shirts will be sold at the schools and at area new car dealerships prior to the game. Shirt sales will continue during the game. All the proceeds from the shirt sales will be donated to Operation American Soldier, which is a local organization that sends support packages to active duty soldiers from northern Michigan, and to help build a memorial to fallen heroes.
â??We have several families from our area that paid the ultimate price in the support of our freedom, this is a way to honor all the fallen heroes and veterans,â?? says West coach Tim Wooer. â??Every soldierâ??s death leaves a gaping hole in our community, itâ??s a critical lesson for our students and players to learn,â?? adds Central coach Tom Passineau.
Veterans and active duty military will be able to get into the game at no charge. The fallen heroes will be honored during a ceremony prior to the game. The ceremony will include a veteranâ??s honor guard and the presentation of a giant American flag. The names of soldiers from northern Michigan who were killed in Afghanistan and Iraq will be read aloud. Soldiers from both Traverse City schools have died in the wars along with men from Kingsley, Benzie Central, Pine River, Gaylord, Petoskey, Ludington, Boyne City, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Mancelona.
In addition to being sold at the schools prior to the game, they will also be available at all Traverse City new car dealerships, Bill Marsh Auto, Fox Motors, Williams and Traverse Motors. The dealerships are helping to underwrite the shirt costs. Cost is a minimum of $5 each. Checks for the shirts can be made out to Operation American Soldier.
Organizers plan for this to become an annual event that helps support local veterans and active-duty soldiers. More information is available at the two schoolâ??s athletic offices.