The lone highlight of yesterday’s Packer game occurred during halftime when four members of the All Veteran Parachute Team floated into Lambeau Field, trailing patriotic smoke and skillfully avoiding camera wires.
Though they appeared to be aiming way too far east of the stadium when they jumped from the plane, all four landed squarely on the field in an impressive display of military precision.
More than 78,000 people set aside their frustrations, their team loyalties and their beers for a few minutes to watch the cool spectacle and applaud both the four veterans and every single member of the troops they represented.
Happy Veteran’s Day, NFL style.
That these military salutes take place on fields that host games and not battles does not diminish their effect.
I will never forget Chris Gizzi, an Air Force Academy graduate, army reservist and Packer linebacker, carrying the American Flag across Lambeau Field on Monday Night Football just a week and a half after 9/11. Gizzi’s patriotic sprint across the field allowed everyone in that stadium to pause, either in prayer or secular reflection, to honor the victims and to salute the heroes.
These military salutes offer a clear perspective to a stadium full of people who dedicate enormous amounts of passion to a seasonal sport. The real heroes are the ones who can’t take their uniforms off, shower up and go home when the battle is over.
Still, there is a mutual respect between the military and the NFL, and football games can offer some relief to our active personnel, an opportunity to cheer for a hometown team on a Sunday afternoon, a three-hour window of relaxation in a dangerous world.
We appreciate the effort the NFL makes to honor our military, the pomp and sincerity given to the national anthem and the weekly introductions of military families.
We’d like to add our own heartfelt thank you to the men and women who defend our country.
Happy Veteran’s Day, from Molly B and Me.