During the third inning of each Washington Nationals home game, team public address announcers pause the loud music and crowd promotions to honor United States military personnel. In what has become a park tradition, the crowd stands and applauds the two dozen or more past and present service members, who are displayed onto the big video board in the outfield. "Proud to be an American" or "American Soldier" plays over the speakers. The service members are usually standing in the sections behind home plate, near the Lexus Presidents Club. This is not unique to the Nationals. Other sports clubs honor military veterans and active service members before, during and after games.
The team has a substantial "Military Initiative" comprised of the seats they give away for each game, a specific Military Appreciation Night, Walter Reed visits, a partnership with USO, a wounded warrior amputee softball team and more. The team also has the DC Public High School Baseball Initiative, Youth Baseball and Softball Clinics, MLB Initiatives and the NatMobile for general outreach. (Some of those web pages are out of date, although I'm pretty sure they are all still happening.)
May 16th is Military Appreciation Night at Nationals Park. The lineup is quite impressive.
But, what if the Nationals honored nurses, or emergency personnel, or teachers the same way? I'm not saying get rid of the military initiative or stop playing "American Soldier" during the 3rd inning. But, we can find time to honor some other very important and critical professionals. This is certainly possible. I would say, imperative.
Where would we be without teachers? I think teachers are undervalued when thimes are good and over targeted when times aren't so good. They play what very well may be one of the most influential roles in American society. Whether you attend public or private schools, you interact with teachers daily for at least 12 of your most formative years. Home school students interact with teachers, too: their parents, relatives, neighbors and other members of the community.
People keep telling me that there is a shortage of nurses in the U.S. I don't know if that's true. But, I do know that nurses keep the health care system running on the ground. They administer in-person care and execute the day-to-day care of patients morning, noon and night. Before you see the doctor, you see the nurse. While you're seeing the doctor, you see the nurse. After your doctor has diagnosed you and moved on to the next patient, you see the nurse. I hope we aren't facing a shortage.
Firefighters, emergency medical technicians and first responders do the early dirty work of human repair and recovery. Victims of fire, crime or accidents may never see the emergency responders who come to their aid because they're often in shock, have endured trauma or are whisked away from a scene during the chaos. Fighting fires, working as an EMT and maintaining certified status of a first responder are mostly thankless jobs. Sometimes you are in the spotlight after a catastrophe or notable act of bravery, but honestly, most of the day-to-day work goes unnoticed by the masses.
What do you think Nationals? Would you be up for having a teacher throw out the first pitch this summer? Invite educators from all over the Washington metro area to sit in the home plate seats for a night? Host nurses from Washington Hospital Center to a standing ovation between innings? Or let DCFD firefighters sing the national anthem and God Bless America during a game? Think about it. Show some good will and imagination. Keep the military initiative. And recognize that there are deserving others, too. Right here in DC.