Today, we honor the tremendous sacrifice of those who have served in defense of the United States.
Of course, we can never do enough to truly thank the brave men and women of the United States military, both past and present. However, one of the many things the Philadelphia Eagles do in that vein happens during training camp on Military Day.
Last summer, Military Day occurred on August 3. Following the morning practice session, a litany of servicemen and servicewomen lined the field and then had the opportunity to meet with the Eagles players. Many conversations centered around the mutual respect between the two sides, though the Eagles players would tell you that relationship is pretty one-sided.
"I feel the same every year when it comes to military day," said former Eagle wide receiver Hank Baskett, whose father served in the Air Force. "This is my favorite day because I grew up a military child and I grew up knowing and I understand and appreciate that if it wasn't for what these men and women are doing, paying the ultimate sacrifice and putting their lives on the line so we can be out here playing football. If they say that we're the only escape from the fact that they've been getting shot at all day playing football? I'll take the time to sign every autograph or take as many pictures as they want."
"Some of the guys said they get satellite feeds and their Sunday nights, or Monday mornings, are more enjoyable because of us," said linebacker Stewart Bradley. "That's a big thing and we really appreciate when we hear that kind of stuff. It's a cool deal when they're over there and they can find some solace or some comfort in watching us play football."
The Eagles actually have their own former serviceman on the roster in wide receiver Chad Hall, who was named the Mountain West offensive player of the year in 2007 at Air Force as a hybrid running back/wide receiver. Hall spent the 2010 season with the Eagles, notching 11 catches for 115 yards and a touchdown. But back in August, he was taking part in his first NFL training camp after service two years at the Hill Air Force Base in Salt Lake City, UT, as a second lieutenant.
Hall would later say that the meet and greet with his brothers and sisters in arms served as a pick-me-up in the doldrums of training camp as he fought for a roster spot.
"It was awesome just to get these guys out there, meet them and hear their story a little bit and thank them for their service," said Hall. "Really, they're the reason we get to be out here every day. They're telling us how much they appreciate us, saying 'Football kept us going while we're over there.' I'm like, 'You all are the ones who give us that opportunity. Thank you for you guys.'"