The Minnesota Lynx hosted the third annual Military Appreciation Night on Tuesday at Target Center and though the end result was the Lynx losing 71-63 at the hands of the Los Angeles Sparks, the overall night for the service members in attendance was considered a great success.
There were a copious amount of service members in the stands Tuesday at the Lynx donated tickets and distributed them to both active and retired members of the five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families.
It was a wide reaching event that featured various pregame activities for military families and also included a pregame on-court flag display by various members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
That all occurred even before the opening tip.
A majority of the focus remained on the actual matchup once the game started, but there were subtle reminders throughout the night that it was Military Appreciation Night at Target Center. Maya Moore donned camouflage shoes all night, the Lynx organization honored numerous veterans during breaks, and Monica Wright spoke to veterans after the game concluded.
Minnesota also honored two WWII veterans specifically toward the middle of the night. US Navy veterans Shirley Westlie and Malcolm Watson stood at halfcourt in the second quarter and before the start of the third quarter, respectively. Westlie served as a Flight Orderly and transported returning GIs to hospitals throughout the United States. Watson served as a member of the US Navy toward the end of WWII and said he was a member of the group of troops scheduled to be deployed before Japan surrendered.
Westlie said this event was extremely special to all that attended.
I think its fantastic that the Lynx have taken the time to honor us, Westlie said. It really means a lot to me personally and Im sure it means a lot to the other people that served.
Watson took time to reminisce about his days in the service and said after his time in the military he attended the University of Minnesota with the help of the GI Bill and majored in civil engineering before working in Columbia Heights. He added that he was very honored to be a part of the entire experience.
I think this was awfully considerate of the Lynx, Watson said. Its great that they do this type of stuff. Im not sure they realize the impact this kind of stuff has on us as veterans.
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