Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans' Day, Opening Day

Today is 11/11/11.

TigerBlog isn't sure what the significance of that is supposed to be. It's not that the world is ending, is it?

To find out, TB went to google, which took him to a website that had all the answers. He was especially impressed with the fact that the number 11, when multiplied against itself, yields a palindrome, as in:
(2 digits) 11 x 11 = 121
(6 digits) 111111 x 111111 = 12345654321
(9 digits) 111111111 x 111111111 = 12345678987654321

Still, that site proved what TB already knew, that today is nothing special numerically.

As far as today's real significance, it's that it's Veterans' Day.

TB wrote this two years ago and repeated it last year, and nothing has changed since:
Take a minute to think about what the significance of today is. Veterans' Day lacks the family feel of Thanksgiving and Christmas. It doesn't conjure up the start of summer like Memorial Day or make you think of a barbecue in the backyard and watching fireworks like the Fourth of July.
Mostly, it's just another day for many people, a day to go about business as usual. Except that we do it in a country that is free, and because today salutes those who made it that way and continue to make it that way, it's nothing short of the most important day of the year.

TB saw a group of young men and women in Navy uniforms last week, and he was completely awe-struck at the sheer courage and dedication and commitment that it takes to do what they do every day, all so the rest of us don't have to, all so the rest of us can play squash and go to the movies and watch Princeton play sports and take kids to activities and anything else that people in a free country do every day and take for granted.

TB cannot overstate how much this country owes to its military people, its veterans and especially those who have given their bodies to the defense of this country.

MotherBlog, at one point, worked for the Paralyzed Veterans of America, at a time when each wheelchair was home to someone who left part of himself in Vietnam. She was involved in a tangential way with the construction of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., and if you've ever been there and haven't shed a tear, well, then you're as much made of stone as the monument itself.

There was a time when basketball season started here after Thanksgiving (actually Dec. 1, used to be the first day games could be played), but this year, it begins on Veterans' Day, with the women's game against St. Joe's tonight at 7 and the men's game tomorrow at 5 against Wagner.

It's a huge weekend of home events here, with football against Yale (tomorrow at 1), men's hockey vs. St. Lawrence tonight and Clarkson tomorrow, women's volleyball with Columbia/Cornell tonight and tomorrow and men's soccer against Yale tomorrow.

And of course, the basketball openers.

For the first time in the great history of Princeton basketball, both the men and women enter the season coming off Ivy titles and NCAA tournament appearances.

For the men, it was the 24th NCAA tournament trip a year ago, as well as the 26th league title. For the women, it was the second NCAA appearance ever - and second straight.

This year, the men are led by Mitch Henderson, whose career record as a head coach is 0-0. TB isn't sure he's ever rooted harder for anyone to do well than he is for Henderson, who is one of TB's all-time favorite Princeton athletes and who has only enhanced what TB thought of him as he has prepared for his first season.

As an aside, Henderson's improvement as a squash player has been remarkable, though not startling, considering how good of an athlete he is.

On the women's side, Courtney Banghart enters her fifth season after going 50-8 the last two years, 27-1 in the Ivy League.

The lure of opening night is to see 1) the return of Niveen Rasheed, who tore her ACL last December and had her sophomore year limited to 12 games, 2) to see if Lauren Edwards gets the 18 points she needs to 1,000 and 3) to see if Princeton can beat St. Joe's for the first time in program history after losing the first nine.

The big moments in basketball season are still three or four months away, but this weekend provides the first glimpses of what's in store.

If it seems early, it is, as it's only 11/11/11.

Opening day for Princeton basketball. In a free country.

TigerBlog provided the game program. The United States military provided the freedom.

Make sure you take a few minutes today - Veterans Day - and remember that.

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