Wish I could have been there. Received this report on how some wounded Marines were treated at a pre-season game on Sunday.
From the bottom of my heart, I cannot thank you enough for providing the Marines an opportunity to come to spring training games again. Everything was perfect. The games, the dinner, the camaraderie, the fans, everything. However, I need to tell you about what happened during the White Sox/Dodgers game that will remain with me for a very long time.
On Sunday, during the 5th inning at Glendale Stadium, the address announcer introduced the Marines. Then they started playing the Marine Corps Hymn and all of the injured Marines stood up to attention. We had seats in the section directly behind home plate, so the Marines were very visible. Then the crowd all stood up and gave the Marines a standing ovation. (Kind of like what happens during Sunday home game at PETCO park with the Marines in the upper deck).
For these Marines, it was emotional for them to be publicly recognized.
Then, when we all left the game in the 7th inning to get back to the airport, the injured Marines had to walk up, directly behind home plate, about 75 stairs to leave. Of course, it took awhile because several had canes and even more could not walk fast because the guys with the canes were at the head of the line.
As they filed up the stairs out of the stadium, in a single file line, spontaneously the crowd again all stood up and gave the Marines a standing ovation until the very last one reached the top of the stairs. Had to take 3-4 minutes. It was loud. It was crazy. The players on the field were even clapping. It was truly a proud moment for me. When the Marines got to the top of the stairs, several were crying. It was very, very emotional. Emotional for them, for me, for the crowd.
On the plane, I started asking myself, why was this trip so fantastic? Here's what I came up with: When the Marines got injured, they were immediately brought back to the hospital for care and treatment. While still in the hospital, those that had warranted the Purple Heart medal were given a very nice, but private ceremony with their immediate family present. Most often a General will come in and congratulate them for a job well done. Then they go through months of therapy.
Never have they been thanked by the public. To be taken out of the hospital, out of rehab and told thanks by the very same people they are fighting for, it is truly overwhelming for them. To watch them hobble up those stairs, with 12,000 to 15,000 people cheering for them and then them having tears streaming down their cheeks, it made me very proud. I want you to know, that you made it possible for them to receive the recognition that they deserve. You should be very proud for what you are doing for our military and especially, my fellow Marines.
In case you were wondering, the above email is from Rich W. and Jim P. who helped get 17 wounded Marines out to Phoenix for Spring Training. Rich and Jim are former Marines and are, not surprisingly, always faithful.
The USAF gave them vans to transport the wounded Marines.
So who was the email of thanks directed to?
It was sent to the man who personally paid for airfare and hotels for the 17 wounded Marines.
His name is Barry Zito of the San Francisco Giants.
He has done a lot for our troops in the past. I am now, officially, a fan.
You can send Barry an email of thanks here. Or a card to here:
c/o San Francisco Giants
24 Willie Mays Plaza
San Francisco, CA 94107