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Dr. Saturday

Coin JFK would have tossed before 1963 Army-Navy game will be used Saturday

Sam Cooper
Dr. Saturday

View photo

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President Obama participated in the Army-Navy coin toss in 2011 (USA Today Sports)

The Army-Navy game is one of the most historic rivalries in all of sports, and on Saturday when the captains from both squads meet at midfield for the pregame coin toss, a coin with a unique history will be used.

President John F. Kennedy was supposed to use the coin during the coin toss of the 1963 Army-Navy game, and on Saturday – more than 50 years later – the coin will finally be used to decide who gets possession to open the game. Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963, eight days before he was scheduled to participate in the game’s coin toss.

The 1963 game, a 21-15 Navy win, was postponed to Dec. 7, and one week later, Midshipman captain Tom Lynch received a package in the mail. It was a package from Cyrus Vance, secretary of the Army. Inside the package Lynch found a letter and the silver dollar coin Kennedy would have used.

The letter from Vance read:

9 December 1963

Dear Midshipman Lynch,

I am forwarding the coin which the late President Kennedy would have used and would have presented to you had he made the toss of the coin at the Army-Navy football game this year. Please accept this memento of a memorable football game.

With best wishes,

Sincerely,
Cyrus R. Vance
Secretary of the Army

More than 50 years later, Lynch, a guard and linebacker on the 1963 team, still remembers the moment he received the coin.

“I really couldn’t believe that the secretary of the Army had taken the time to send me that coin. It was very thoughtful of him,” Lynch told the Capital Gazette.

Lynch has had the coin and letter framed and displayed in every home in which he has lived during his 31-year career in the U.S. Navy. According to the Gazette, Lynch was moved by the history surrounding the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s death, so he decided to donate the coin to the Naval Academy.

“I had the coin in my possession for 50 years and that was long enough. That’s a piece of Army-Navy game history and I just felt it would be meaningful to give that coin back to the Naval Academy so it could be seen publicly from now on,” Lynch said.

On Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will flip the coin in the 114th meeting between Army and Navy. After that, Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk plans to display the coin and letter in the Navy Football Hall of Fame.

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H/T Capital Gazette

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