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Football coach's letter: A patriotic reminder

Chuck Peterson is the head football coach at Orange Lutheran High School in Orange, Calif., but long before that he was a cadet at the United States Air Force Academy. In addition to his duties at the Academy, Peterson also played on the Falcons' football team, where he was a two-year starter at cornerback. After completing his military duties, Peterson remained in service to the Academy as an assistant coach for the Falcons for 17 seasons.

All told, Petersen spent 22 years as a member of the Air Force football program, which included 44 games inside the Falcons' collective Commander-in-Chief Trophy rivalry with Army and Navy. And, much to Peterson's delight, his Falcons claimed the trophy 14 times in his 22 years involved.

Petersen now participates in the rivalry solely as a spectator, but the pride of service academy football lives on in another generation -- and at another academy. Brady Petersen is a sophomore safety at Navy and, with Navy and Air Force set to square off Saturday in Colorado Springs, the elder Petersen wrote us, unsolicited, to describe just how special the Navy-Air Force game is to him and his family.

We found Petersen's letter so moving we thought we'd share it with you.

Navy vs. Air Force

The first weekend in October never has to announce itself to me. For me, since 1980, this weekend has been reserved for Air Force vs. Navy. It is hard to describe the gauntlet of emotions that the players and coaches go through. It is like nothing I have ever experienced except for the first weekend in November. I've been fortunate to have experienced the absolute high of victory in every way imaginable and the devastation of defeat as well. It's funny that I remember the losses much more than the victories. This post though isn't about me. It is about the young men who will compete this Saturday. Everything they have done is for this Saturday and the one that follows in November or December. They will say that there are other games that matter but in the end, they really don't.

We are going through a crisis of leadership and moral decay in this nation that we have never experienced. Please understand that the men who will be in the arena on Saturday and the men and women who are supporting them are not in that group. Yes, a game will be played and the stakes are high but in the end they will take their football uniforms off and put on another uniform that is much more important. I promise you this, they will stand for the National Anthem and will be proud that they are representing all that is good in this country. As they stand proudly they are doing it for you, me and everyone else who is counting on them to support and defend the Constitution of this great nation. They will stand so that you may have the ability to sit if you choose. That is your right under the constitution that they are obligated to support and defend.

So as you partake in the beverage of your choice, eat the food in front of you and watch one of the 3 greatest football games that will be played the entire season, say a little prayer for each one of them and Thank God that there are men and women still willing to sacrifice so that we may be free!

Chuck Petersen
Head Football Coach
Orange Lutheran HS (CA)

God Bless The United States of America!