Veterans Day is an interesting holiday. You probably had the day off. You got to wake up late… and how ’bout those awesome sales? Nevertheless, I think we can all take a good hard look at ourselves. The true meaning behind the day is often lost.
Fans my age know a cursory history of Baseball’s role in the Second World War, thanks to “A League of Their Own.” However, Baseball’s ties with men and women in uniform go far deeper than most people realize. If you had the opportunity to check out New York City’s annual Veterans Day Parade (either in person or on television) or Bailey Stephen’s article on MLB.com, you saw it.
Yesterday, one of the last remaining players who left the Major Leagues to fight in WWII (and later the Korean War), former Yankee and Hall of Fame broadcaster Jerry Coleman, rode down Fifth Avenue in New York as the grand marshal of the city’s annual Veterans Day Parade. I knew that Jerry Coleman was a poet on the mic and pretty darn funny, but I didn’t know that he served his country not once…but twice. It kinda makes you feel guilty for waking up late, huh?
Thousands of Americans greeted Coleman, active duty serviceman and veterans participating in yesterday’s parade. (Did you know the city’s annual parade is the nation’s largest?) It’s that reverence which is at the heart of “The Spirit of ’45,” a non-profit organization in which Coleman is involved. Coleman’s role as grand marshal in the parade capped off a year of campaigning for the 501c3.
The Spirit of ’45 initiative held events throughout 2010 to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the end of WWII. Coleman successfully lobbied to have Major League Baseball and its thirty teams recognize Aug. 14, 2010, around the league. The campaign sought to recognize the past and inspire a call to service for young Americans. Thursday’s parade only helped spread that message. If anything, as I look at my shopping bags, I’m listening with some guilt.
Ok…a lot of guilt…
“I hope so,” Coleman said. “It’s to make people aware of what can happen in wartime. I would hope people would stop to think about the people serving. Any time young American men are challenged, someone steps to the forefront.” Coleman along with Ted Williams, Yogi Berra and Bob Feller were just some of the few who went to bat for their country over 65 years ago. With everything going on today, maybe it’s time we all take a look to see how we can get in the on deck circle as well.
Check out Bailey Stephens’ original article at http://tinyurl.com/BaileyStephens. She is a reporter for MLB.com and can also be followed on Twitter at Bstephens27.