49ers headquarters was oozing with patriotism on Friday, as the organization commemorated Veteran’s Day. On the 11th day of the 11th month of 2011, the 49ers hoisted a flag to wave behind the goal posts on the practice field, while listening to a mixtape full of American-themed tunes.
“We put some patriotic songs on with the iPod there,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. “The flag is positioned behind the goalpost on the field goal netting, it reminds me of The Big House. If you have ever been to the Michigan Stadium, American Flag behind the goalpost, very symbolic.”
With Harbaugh being the American history buff he is, the 49ers spent last weekend in the nation’s capital visiting storied memorials like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. The 49ers also held their walk-through at U.S. Marine Corps Barracks in Washington, a day before defeating the Redskins 19-11.
The 49ers are always trying to find ways to give back to America’s servicemen and women.
Earlier this season, Mike Iupati carried a poster around the locker room for all his teammates to sign, before sending it off to his brother-in-law, who is currently serving in Afghanistan. For Iupati, Veteran’s Day just serves as another reminder to those who make the ultimate sacrifice.
“They’re fighting for our country and they’re fighting for us,” Iupati said. “It’s just something to boost their morale. It’s nice for us to give a little something to them for everything they give us.”
Iupati is hardly the only player in the locker room with ties to men and women in the service. Running back Anthony Dixon and safety Colin Jones said they both have close friends who are currently serving in the armed forces.
“It’s humbling,” Dixon said of Veteran’s Day. “It’s our mighty salute to them because they’re over there doing all the dirty work, over there fighting for us so we can do what we do. We’re definitely keeping them in our prayers because they give us strength.”
Jones also said he noticed Harbaugh had an extra hop in his step on Friday at the practice field.
“He was a little fired up and we had the music going out there,” Jones said. “The armed forces are a very important part of our society. Those guys lay it on the line and it’s just awesome just to get to celebrate them.”
The 49ers will commemorate Veteran’s Day with a ceremonial flip-card activity during Sunday’s contest against the New York Giants, when more than 50,000 fans will work together to create a “Thank You Veterans” message at Candlestick Park.
Five members of the Tuskegee Airmen, an all-black pilot group that fought in World War II, will also serve as honorary team captains for the game. Bay Area native Leslie Williams, a Stanford graduate and 30-year 49ers season ticket owner, is among the captains. Joining Williams will be LeRoy Gillead, Harold Hoskins, George Potter and Edward Woodward.
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