The Nationals do a Military Appreciation Night every year, and had details for this year’s event planned since January. But there’s little they could do to make future installments more memorable than the one they’ve got coming up tonight.
The team will honor servicemen and women at tonight’s game against the San Francisco Giants, the first since President Obama told the nation last night that U.S. special forces had killed al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. The news prompted spontaneous celebrations in front of the White House and at Ground Zero in New York, and the Nationals’ event gained some extra gravitas.
“It’s amazing the way the timing worked out,” manager Jim Riggleman said. “It’s just really a great opportunity for our fans to do what we always do here - honor our military vets and wounded warriors. I know that those who are here tonight are going to be beaming with pride about what took place last night.”
The Nationals are giving four free tickets to active or retired military personnel with a valid military ID. Marianne Downs, a public affairs specialist with the Office of Community Relations for the Department of Defense, said she’s anticipating several thousand members of military families to attend the game tonight.
They will have a flyover from the U.S. Coast Guard before the game, and Sgt. Andrew Steele, a wounded Army serviceman who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, will throw out the first pitch.
“I think it’ll be exciting, as it always is, for the service members to be here,” Downs said. “I think it probably does add a little bit of a special element.”