Ravens head coach **John Harbaugh** is spending his Fourth of July in one of the most patriotic ways an American citizen can – with the troops.
Harbaugh left Tuesday as a member of the NFL-USO Coaches Tour in the Persian Gulf to meet with service members throughout the Middle East.
The trip is a new venture that will evolve into an annual tradition. Harbaugh is traveling with Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher, Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants and former NFL coaches Bill Cowher and John Gruden.
"These guys are what America is all about," Harbaugh said of the troops. "You know, we talk about team and sports, we think team is important, having each other's back – and it is important – but we're just a small little slice of what that means compared to the military.
"I think everybody in this country is proud of everything that's being done over there by our young people."
Which is exactly why Harbaugh is going to the region.
Harbaugh is an avid supporter of the military in Baltimore, where he has previously hosted troops at the Ravens' headquarters in Owings Mills, Md., to watch practice.
During training camp, there is also a Military Appreciation Day scheduled for Aug. 19, where anyone in the military can sit in a special area for practice and meet the coaches and players afterwards.
"They come out here and watch practice; they talk to our team, guys who have been through some amazing situations," Harbaugh explained. "I think I'm going to learn more and enjoy it more probably than they are, for sure. What am I going to say to them? I'm looking forward to what they have to say, and it's going to be a neat trip."
Harbaugh noted a longtime childhood friend, Jim Minick, who is a colonel in the Marines and has done three tours in Iraq.
The colonel and coach have discussed the similar themes that are common to both occupations.
"We've had a chance to talk over the years about leadership, relationships and about what motivates a person to do something difficult," Harbaugh explained. "Historically, the military has been the best at that."
Harbaugh said his days would consist of helicopter rides from base to base to see the maximum number of troops, lasting from dawn to midnight. He also expects to see a good number of Ravens fans that want to talk some football.
"I want them to know that the NFL is behind them, the Ravens are behind them and the Ravens' great fan base is behind them," Harbaugh said with a smile. "It's really going to be a great experience, something really unique and fun.
"Teamwork - that's what our country is all about. We want to make sure our teammates over there understand that."
Harbaugh will be in touch with BaltimoreRavens.com during the NFL-USO Coaches Tour in the Persian Gulf this week for an exclusive column offering the behind-the-scenes story of his activities.