Starting with the 2015 season, the Reading Fightins, Double-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, will now be honoring living World War II veterans at each home game during the Savage61 Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Ceremonial Flag Service, the club announced at the Veterans Day Wreath-Laying Ceremony on Tuesday.
The World War II veterans will be honored, in addition to fallen veterans of all wars, nightly during a pre-game ceremony beside their family and friends. During the ceremony, the Fightins will tell each veteran's story and present the veteran with a Ceremonial Flag as a token of appreciation for all that they have done in protection of the United States of America.
"When we announced the Ceremonial Flag Service last season, we had no idea how well our fans and the community would receive the nightly program and because of this, we wanted to allow living veterans of World War II to be celebrated alongside their families during the 2015 season," said Fightins General Manager Scott Hunsicker. "This is the least we could do to give them proper respect and admiration for risking their lives in the line of battle. We thank Tim Profit and Savage 61 Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram for stepping up and underwriting this important program as well as all of our military programs."
Last season, the Fightins honored fallen veterans of all wars during a pre-game ceremony by flying a Ceremonial Flag near the giant dog tags at the main entrance to honor a specific veteran each home game. Before each home game, the Fightins raised a ceremonial flag to tribute to their memory and welcomed their family to the game. The flag was then lowered and given to the family following the game.
Reservations for the Savage61 Ceremonial Flag Service will be taken for the 2015 season. Those interested can call 610-370-BALL ext. 293 to reserve a date. Anyone interested in paying tribute or honor to a veteran is asked to call that number with their preference of a game date. Available game dates are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Over the years, the Fightins have continued to discover new ways to honor Berks County's veterans. Originally named Reading Municipal Memorial Stadium, FirstEnergy Stadium was completed in 1951 and named in honor of the servicemen and women who risked their lives in defense of their country. 48 years later in 1999, a statue in the form of giant dog tags was placed in front of FirstEnergy Stadium in a special rededication ceremony to honor the area's veterans.