The tribute to active duty and military veterans begins at 11 a.m. when the gates, booths and food concessions open, followed by the first game of the doubleheader at noon.
Ceremonies begin at 11:45 a.m. with retired U.S. Air Force Chaplain Ben Perez leading a moment of silence and prayer. A flyover by the Civil Air Patrol and presentation of colors by the Bradley Central High School ROTC color guard under the direction of Lt. Col. Chris Ingle follows. The pregame ceremonies conclude with the national anthem performed by Mary Hobbs, representing the U. S. Marine Corps.; Jared Barton, representing the U. S. Army; and an ensemble from First Baptist Church Choir.
World War II veterans Claude Wallace, who served in the Navy and Pearl Harbor survivor George Allen will throw out the first pitch.
“God Bless America” by Hobbs, Barton and First Baptist Church ensemble will perform “God Bless America” in place of the traditional “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
At 1:30 p.m. or after the final out, all active duty and military veterans will be asked to make their way to the end of the first base dugout in order to enter the field for a special ceremony between games and remarks from Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland.
The purpose of Military Appreciation Day is to honor local veterans for their sacrifices and serve as a fundraiser for construction of a veterans’ park. Military Appreciation Day combines the baseball doubleheader, static military displays and the No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard car.
Other activities include Kid Zone, inflatables, baseball speed throw, whiffle ball and hand dipped ice cream.
Admission to the games is by donation only, with proceeds going toward the veterans park on the west end of Spring Creek on Veterans Memorial Highway (APD 40) east of the BP convenience store located on the corner of 25th and Parker streets.
The park will also link to the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway, which leads to Schimmels Park on the campus of Lee University and the Museum Center at Five Points.
The chief methods of fundraising are through camouflage T-shirts during the game and through local businesses, “Memory or Honor” flags, donations and a silent auction that will run throughout the first game. Items go to the highest bids and winning bidders do not have to be present to win.