Division-Leading Nationals Join America Supports You
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 5, 2005 America's men and women in uniform have another powerful friend working to support them.
Washington Nationals manager and baseball hall-of-famer Frank Robinson chats with Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense, during ceremonies marking the Nationals' partnership with the Defense Department's "America Supports You" program at RFK Stadium in Washington, July 4. The Nationals became the first major league baseball team to join the troop-support program. Photo by Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The Washington Nationals, currently in first place in the National League's East Division, became the first major league baseball team to join the Defense Department's "America Supports You" program July 4 at their game against the New York Mets at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium here.
America Supports You is a nationwide program launched by DoD to recognize citizen support for the nation's military men and women and to communicate that support to members of the armed forces at home and abroad. The Nationals join many major corporations, organizations and individuals as part of America Supports You.
Having a large, highly visible organization like the Nationals join America Supports You helps to get word out about the program and to raise more support for the troops, said Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for internal communications and community outreach.
"This is really about a way to connect all of the people here today in the baseball stadium to our troops through the America Supports You campaign," she said. "We're proud of the Nationals for taking the first step and being the (first major league baseball) team to join."
Several Nationals players said it's important to be involved in a program like America Supports You, because it gives them a way to show support for the troops.
It's important to remember the sacrifices servicemembers make for all Americans, said Jamey Carroll, Nationals third baseman. "They provide the freedom for us to come out and play baseball, so the least we can do is let them know how much support is here and how much we care," he noted.
Nationals right fielder Ryan Church agreed with Carroll's message of support. "Here we are playing a game - a little kid's game - and they're fighting for our freedom," he said. "We tip our caps to them, and we're thinking about them every day and just appreciate everything they do for us."
Church said after he visited wounded troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here recently, he gained a new appreciation for what they go through in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"It's just jaw dropping what they've been through," he said. "I can't honestly think about what I would do if I was in their shoes."
In addition to the Nationals' America Supports You partnership, pre-game activities included a video salute to the armed forces and a performance of the national anthem by the Singing Sergeants, the official chorus of the U.S. Air Force. Right before the game, fans were treated to a flyover by Marine Helicopter Squadron 1, a Marine Corps unit that provides all helicopter transportation for the president and is responsible for testing assault helicopters and related equipment.