On a scorcher of a day, many of the Louisville District employees, family members and friends enjoyed America’s favorite pastime at Slugger Field to celebrate Military Appreciation Day, where they saw the Louisville Bats beat the Toledo Mud Hens on Memorial Day, May 27, 2019.
While Memorial Day honors servicemembers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the nation, the Louisville Bats paid tribute to all servicemen and women who have honorably served.
But, this wasn’t just another day at the ballpark. It was Memorial Day – a day to remember those who have defended our freedoms and the American way of life.
“When deployed in 2009-10 to Afghanistan, a Soldier from our battalion was killed. It was really hard for the entire battalion to grasp the loss of our comrade. There isn’t a single day that goes by that men and women such as he, are not sorely missed by their family, friends and brothers/sisters who don the uniform,” said Louisville District Commander Col. Antoinette Gant. “I read somewhere, ‘It isn’t without loss that we truly value what we have gained.’ We owe those who have passed away in combat our unwavering gratitude for giving their life to maintain the safety and prosperity for this nation and many others across the world.”
The Bats honored military personnel from nearby Fort Knox, April 28, but on Memorial Day, they officially recognized the many veterans, National Guard, Reserve and active-duty servicemembers working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“I think it’s great that the Bats host Military Appreciation events,” said Laurie Fudge, Engineering Division administrative officer. “It was worthwhile for me to attend this event because it gave me a relaxing, fun day out with my husband, and it also gave us the opportunity to thank and to socialize with other veterans.”
The crowd cheered and applauded as the Bats recognized serving military members and veterans by having those in attendance stand.
“I was overjoyed to participate in such an event. It was such an overwhelming, elated feeling when I looked around the stadium to see so many servicemen and women in my own agency as well as others,” said Anthony Johnson, Air Force veteran and Corps of Engineers mail clerk. “This is the kind of organized event that connects us to a hard part of our lives – patriotic duty … to know we survived.”
To kick off the start of the game, Col. Gant threw out a ceremonial first pitch. Following the ceremonial first pitch, came the posting of the colors and the singing of The Star-Spangled Banner.
Steve Farkus, an Army veteran and Corps of Engineers project manager said he was very appreciative of the recognition and thankful to retailers for the veteran incentives they offer.
“It was a great way to collectively think of our mission and for me to remember Soldiers who gave their lives for our country,” Farkus said.
Initially, the Bats struggled in the 80 F heat to make things happen before their home crowd of nearly 6,000 fans, and the Toledo Mud Hens held firm control with a 5-0 lead early on.
But the Bats would rally back in the 6th inning with six runs to seize the lead. They never looked back, scoring an additional four runs in the 7th and 8th innings, sending the Mud Hens home with a 10-6 loss.
“What an honor it is to be asked to participate in the Bats Military Appreciation Day Game. I continuously think about those who served during the Vietnam era and were not welcomed home or publicly appreciated for their service,” Gant said. “It is great to see organizations such as the Louisville Bats take the time to recognize those who have served and continue to serve to protect the freedoms of our nation.”