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Coastal Carolina witnessed US Embassy flag-raising in Cuba

Cliff Ellis

AP Photo


For the first time in more than 50 years, an American flag is flying at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba.

The flag was raised in a ceremony in Havana last week, marking the end of a freeze in diplomatic relations that dates back to the Cold War, more than half-a-century ago. Notable visitors included Secretary of State John Kerry, three of the Marines that helped lower the flag in 1961 and the Coastal Carolina basketball team.

You see, head coach Cliff Ellis decided in December that when president Barack Obama decided to end our economic isolation of Cuba that he would be the first men’s basketball team to take their foreign tour to the island nation. And they just so happened to be on hand in Havana when the flag was raised.

From the Sun Herald:

The team got a chance to view history on their final day of the tour last Friday, first content to watch outside the gates before being invited inside.

Ellis said tears welling up in his eyes “became a trickle down my face,” with three Marines who lowered the American flag in 1961 on hand to watch it rise up again last week.

“This was a life changer,” Ellis said Tuesday. “I told the team, this is bigger than anything you’ll do in basketball.”

No one on that Coastal Carolina roster will ever be wearing the red, white and blue in the Olympics, but I’m not sure they will ever have a bigger moment in which to represent the United States.