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American College Football Celebrates Veterans on NATO Day

November 4, 2023

NORFOLK, Va. – Upon entering the S.B. Ballard Stadium, a blanket of spirit wear worn by veterans and college football fans encircle Old Dominion University’s football field during Old Dominion’s Military Appreciation and NATO Day, Nov. 4.

Old Dominion University is honouring veterans from all military branches including NATO staff and their families with an intercollegiate American football game tribute between Old Dominion Monarchs and Coastal Carolina Chanticleers.

Supreme Allied Commander Transformation General Philippe Lavigne, accompanied by a wounded warrior, kicked off the pre-game tradition with a coin toss between the Monarchs and the Chanticleers. Since 1892, the coin toss has been a football game tradition.

“We celebrate the NATO spirit in this exciting game. Like a football team’s playbook, NATO knows that victory is achieved by harnessing the diverse talents and unwavering teamwork,” said General Lavigne.

During the football game, NATO Allied Command Transformation staff and their family members proudly waved NATO-blue foam fingers at the stadium.

“As a new member of Allied Command Transformation, it is a great opportunity for me and my family to experience American culture at a fun event,” said British Royal Navy Lieutenant Commander Connor May.

To further celebrate NATO and Military Appreciation Day, about 100 NATO volunteers created a tunnel and gave football players a high-five at the start of the game. At halftime, the Old Dominion University Monarch Athletic Band trumpeted NATO’s Parade of Flags as NATO’s flag bearers proudly marched on the football field, displaying the unification of 31 allied nations.

This year, NATO Allied Command Transformation celebrates its 20th Anniversary in Norfolk, Virginia – a city known as “NATO’s Home in North America”.

General Lavigne, whose motto is “Win as a Team”, praised fellow veterans for their collaborative efforts in continuing to support NATO’s operations. “Just as on the gridiron, in our mission, we stand stronger together, ensuring our shared values triumph against the ever-changing landscape of global security,” he said.

Allied Command Transformation’s mission is preserving the peace, security and territorial integrity of Alliance member states by leading at the strategic command level, the transformation of military structures, forces, capabilities, and doctrines to improve the military effectiveness of NATO.