The Lee University Flames baseball team hopes veterans and community residents alike will once again respond to the opportunity to honor America’s heroes in the second annual Military Appreciation Day on Saturday.
The event is sponsored by the Bank of Cleveland and will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. at Olympic Field, off Parker Street.
Head coach Mark Brew explained the community is key in the baseball team’s efforts to reach its two goals.
“Number 1 [is] to honor and recognize the service of men and women in the community. I think it is a thankless job. They don’t look for recognition, and I think it is worthy of recognition,” Brew said of veterans and active servicemen alike. “They don’t walk around [trying] to make events for themselves.”
He said he felt compelled to make an event tailored for the soldiers and in honor of them.
The second goal of the event is to raise funds for this year’s beneficiary, the Disabled American Veterans. Over $10,000 was raised last year for the veterans memorial park in town. Brew hopes to make at least $15,000 for the DAV.
He explained the local chapter works on a shoestring budget. In spite of its low funds, the DAV strives to positively affect as many veterans as it can. Brew would like to bolster the nonprofit’s mission through funds raised at the family-friendly event Saturday.
Gates will open at 1 p.m. Booths will be set up to include recruiters from branches of the military to the Veterans Affairs. Full concessions will be available, and Zaxby’s will have its own area for attendees to purchase food. Veterans will eat free from Zaxby’s.
Goody bags will be handed out to veterans throughout the event by the VA. These will include items like a water bottle and coupons for free appetizers and meals from local eateries. Sports Clips has agreed to set aside an hour to cut veterans’ hair for free at the ballpark. Those interested will need to attend to find out the exact time of the free hair cots.
An inflatable, whiffle ball field and baseball speed throw will be a part of a Kid Zone.
A silent auction will run until the end of the first game. Items up for grabs include: a jersey signed by former Atlanta Brave John Smoltz, a Chattanooga Lookouts package; a jersey singed by Atlanta Braves pitcher Mike Minor; and much, much more.
Military Day T-shirts and camo hats will be available for purchase throughout the event. Flags either ‘in memory of’ or ‘in honor of’ a veteran or active service member may be purchased for $5. Attendees may place these flags in a designated area. Brew said they will be left up for about a month after the event.
The line up of events include:
- gates open at 1 p.m.;
- former U.S. Army Green Beret Robert Green will lead a moment of silence and prayer, followed by the singing of the National Anthem by the Voices of Lee and first pitches by DAV commander Bill Gray and U.S. Army veteran Andrew Smith at 1:45 p.m.;
- Lee University will play against NCAA rivals Christian Brothers University at 2 p.m.;
- Voices of Lee will return to sing “God Bless America” in the seventh inning of the game;
- all veterans and active military will be asked to participate in a special ceremony at the end of the ninth inning (around 4 p.m.).
The Voices of Lee will end the event with a military-themed medley.
Brew reiterated the event is not just for veterans.
“It is a family-friendly event. We are honoring veterans, servicemen and servicewomen, but we want the community to come out in honor of them,” he said. “How neat and special would that be? If, when they are being honored, there are 1,000 people sitting in the stands and clapping and cheering for them?”
Added Brew, “The veterans make the event, but the fans will make it really special for them.”