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Friday, November 11, 2011
Vitale tours USS Carl Vinson

By Dick Vitale
ESPN.com

I had such a special thrill to receive a tour of the USS Carl Vinson. It is an amazing ship, but what made it incredible was the people.

The ship is hosting the Veterans Day game between North Carolina and Michigan State. There is tremendous talent and two big-time coaches, Hall of Famer Roy Williams and future Hall of Famer Tom Izzo.

While they are superstars in the world of college basketball, the real stars on Friday are the men and women who will be sitting and taking in the game. They are the people giving us freedom. We should be so proud of the troops that represent us with class and dignity. I was so proud to give a speech to them, as they are the red, white and blue, true heroes.

It was amazing to meet the people of the ship, starting with admiral Sam Perez, a former Naval Academy graduate and his staff.

My buddies Mark Fischer and Nick Bollettieri of tennis fame were so excited to be there with me. My wife was so proud to meet many of our real heroes.

I appreciate and love our athletes, who give us great thrills, but these men and women are real heroes. Representing our nation means so much.

I am so proud that ESPN is giving these men and women a special moment, a tribute by playing this game on the USS Carl Vinson. I have the utmost respect for what they do for our nation.

We call upon these people in times if uncertainty in our ever-changing world. They keep this nation protected and they deserve our love and respect.

This is as special a place for me to call a game in my 33 seasons. It is an incredible venue. This is a very special day as the troops represent us in a unique way. It is an honor to be here and a day I will remember for the rest of my life.

Thank you for treating us on the ESPN team so well for this special game and incredible day. These individuals have so much passion and pride.