color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: I Love Baseball...

Friday, July 04, 2008

I Love Baseball...

I love baseball. I love watching it -- whether it's Little League, Minor League, Major League, Industrial Leagues... I loved playing it, teaching it, coaching it... I love baseball. On the theory that everyone gets to name their own version of Heaven, mine is that you get to play baseball every day and they don't care if you're a girl. I live a clean life on that theory (and also on the theory that there is a Hell, which, in my version, is Boston beating the Yankees every day (SHUDDER).

So I was extremely delighted when I read this

Major League Baseball announced... the launch of a national campaign called "Welcome Back Veterans." This is an apolitical series of national fundraising and awareness initiatives over the Fourth of July weekend and Sept. 11 to support the ongoing return of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, an effort started by a group of citizens led by Mets chairman Fred Wilpon with the full support of MLB, Major League Baseball Advanced Media and the McCormick Foundation.

For games throughout the July 4 weekend and on Sept. 11, all MLB clubs will wear "Stars & Stripes" caps that are available for sale to the public, with a portion of the proceeds going to Welcome Back Veterans. These official New Era caps can be purchased at the Shop, a way to help others.

All home teams over the July 4 weekend will host ceremonies honoring veterans in their community, with veterans throwing out the first pitches. For games that day, "Welcome Back Veterans" will adorn the bases and home plates. There will be custom lineup cards, with a place for a local veteran to place his or her signature. Among many fundraising activities, each club will auction off a set of bases, game-worn caps and a specially designed team jersey to benefit Welcome Back Veterans.

"Major League Baseball considers it both an obligation and a privilege to assist our troops in any way we can," said MLB president and chief operating officer Bob DuPuy, a veteran who served a year in Vietnam and received the Army Commendation Medal for his service. "Welcome Back Veterans was created to help our brave men and women make a successful transition to civilian life when their service to their country has ended. We ask that all Major League Baseball fans join us on the July Fourth weekend and on Sept. 11th in this grand-scale effort to raise funds and bring awareness to this vital cause."

"I congratulate Major League Baseball on this extraordinary act of compassion for our troops throughout our Independence Day weekend," said General David L. Grange, retired U.S. Army Brigadier General and president and CEO of the McCormick Foundation. "It's a need I don't think many Americans understand yet, but they will. We believe everyone is accountable to the future of our nation. No one can sit on the sidelines. We're going to care for our retiring troops and their families, because it's the responsibility of the nation. If you go back to President Calvin Coolidge, he said, 'A nation who forgets its veterans will itself be forgotten.'"
"We as players are extremely proud not only to wear these caps but also to represent and pay our respects to our returning veterans," said Mets third baseman David Wright, who comes from the Naval community of Norfolk, Va., and was among the speakers at the news conference. "Growing up in a military town in Virginia, I have friends and family who have given up their lives to serve a cause. Because of these men and women, I get the opportunity to play a game and live in freedom. I hope we remember these veterans."

Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon has been a staunch ally of returning vets with his own support of the "Wounded Warrior Project." "When it comes to supporting our troops," he said, "everyone in Major League Baseball is on the same team." That includes Giants pitcher Barry Zito, who in 2005 founded "Strikeouts for Troops." It has raised nearly $1 million, with 100 percent of those funds going to wounded veterans and their families.

You can buy the Stars & Stripes hats for your favorite team HERE. A portion of the proceeds of the sale of each cap goes to the "Welcome Back Veterans" fund.

Read the whole story here.

PS Note to MLB: While I love this whole campaign and laud the idea and intent behind it, I think the MLB story is just too heavily weighted (once again) to the "psychotic veteran" angle. Veterans sure can use the job initiatives and the college programs aimed at returning vets, but the last thing they need is more piling on the stereotype of mentally deranged and unemployed loser...

And to those who will want to lecture me, don't give me grief about the mental health status of veterans. If you read my blog you know I have lived the PTSD story with our son. Yes, there is a need for services and treatments for returning combat veterans but it's not ALL veterans and not everyone who has experienced combat stress is non-functioning. Let's give that angle a break -- and let's all just celebrate that these guys deserve our thanks and appreciation for their service.

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