Scheduled for Saturday, March 23, the six-hour event will feature a doubleheader with Southern States Athletic Conference rival Southern Polytechnic State University; however, baseball is just the backdrop.
The day will include a myriad of activities, exhibits and recognitions at Olympic Field.
The primary goal of Military Appreciation Day is to honor current and veteran members of all branches of the military in the Cleveland and surrounding area for their service to the United States of America. This includes the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard and the National Guard.
The secondary goal is to serve as a fundraiser on behalf of the veterans park first proposed by Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland six years ago. At the time, the mayor suggested the location for such a park could be the downtown First Street Square. Hopes for the park now lie along the west end of the Spring Creek neighborhood on Veterans Memorial Highway known to most as APD 40.
Currently, the veterans park proposal is on hold — just temporarily — so as not to interfere with ongoing fundraising efforts for the new veterans home in Bradley County which is getting closer and closer to reality.
In the meantime, the Lee University baseball team has chosen to dedicate proceeds from Military Appreciation Day toward the park because its development potentially could be realized sometime during the Lee players’ time in Cleveland. Because Military Appreciation Day is being planned as an annual event, its proceeds will go toward the veterans park whose downsized price tag has gone from $750,000 to about $125,000.
Present plans call for the small park to include five flagpoles, one for each branch of the service, surrounding one center flagpole bearing the U.S., Tennessee and MIA/POW flags. A bench will be located at the base of each flagpole and a walkway will extend from the center to each flagpole.
Fundraising for the park — all in conjunction with Military Appreciation Day — will include the sale of commemorative, camouflage T-shirts sold before and during the baseball doubleheader, and through local businesses including the Cleveland Daily Banner. Other methods for fundraising include business and corporate sponsorships, benefit days at local restaurants and a silent auction on game day.
Additionally, donation boxes will be set up at all Lee Flames home games and in area stores. Admission to the doubleheader on Military Appreciation Day will be by donation.
We will have more to say about the Lee-hosted festivity later, but for now let us offer this. The concept is a genuine one and should come as no surprise to anyone in our Cleveland and Bradley County hometown. It is being held in keeping with an ever-growing Lee University tradition of people service and community involvement. Other familiar Lee causes that benefit the community and surrounding residents are Volley for a Cure (volleyball), Hoops for Hope (basketball) and Kickin’ it for Kids (soccer).
The Flames baseball team is already recruiting some strong partners, one of whom is Bank of Cleveland which is the major sponsor of the Military Appreciation Day T-shirts.
The day will be dedicated to our men and women in the various branches of the U.S. military. And the occasion will be America’s favorite pastime — baseball.
But no need for gloves on this diamond-of-a-cause because the Flames are swinging for the fences.
For more information or to find out how to help, contact Lee baseball graduate assistant Andrew Carson at 423-614-8031 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another young group of Lee University’s finest has stepped to the plate.
May those who support America’s veterans join their cause by offering the first pitch.