It’s not often we mention let alone devote an entire post to a coin toss, but the circumstances surrounding the one coming up this weekend are certainly noteworthy.
In 1963, President John F. Kennedy, a Navy veteran and well-known lover of football, was scheduled to participate in the ceremonial coin toss prior to the Nov. 30 Army-Navy game. On Nov. 22 of that year, Kennedy was gunned down by an assassin in Dallas. While many thought the iconic rivalry game would/should be cancelled out of respect for the fallen president, JFK’s family insisted the game be played, which it did after a one-week postponement.
Now, shortly after the 50th anniversary of the assassination was observed, the spirit of what was a highly-anticipated moment will play out five decades later.
The silver dollar that was to be used by President Kennedy in that 1963 game will be utilized in the coin toss prior to Saturday’s Army-Navy game. That coin was sent 50 years ago to the captain of the winning side that day, Navy linebacker and captain Tom Lynch, by Secretary of the Army Cyrus Vance. The envelope with the JFK silver dollar enclosed also included a letter from Vance.
9 December 1963
Dear Midshipman Lynch,
I am forwarding the coin which the late President Kennedy would have used and would have presented to you had he made the toss of the coin at the Army-Navy football game this year. Please accept this memento of a memorable football game.
With best wishes,
Cyrus R. Vance
Secretary of the Army
Five decades later, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will flip the coin that was to be used by President Kennedy in that 1963 game. That coin, and the letter that accompanied it, appears below.