A classic American experience is the celebration of our nation's independence over the Fourth of July. With the backdrop of baseball at Volcanoes Stadium, it is only appropriate to also bring into the limelight those who have, continue to, and will ensure freedom lives on in the United States. Our country is great because of what makes us unique - and we pair those together once again this Independence Day Weekend with our 7th Annual Patriotic Tribute at Volcanoes Stadium.
Each year, the Volcanoes host our Annual Patriotic Tribute at Volcanoes Stadium. The event is well known for bringing excitement, emotion, and a memorable experience to every guest. From Thanking, Honoring, and Saluting hundreds of Veterans, to two fantastic firework shows, Volcanoes Stadium has everything you could want to celebrate the 4th of July.
Tickets are going fast, and we encourage you to reserve your spot now by calling 503-390-2225 or visiting our website at volcanoesbaseball.com.
It all began in 2008, when Jerry Howard, current Senior Marketing Executive for the Volcanoes, wanted to create a patriotic promotion at the ballpark for the 4 of July.
"I chuckle now looking back to where the event began that year," Jerry said. "That year, four National Guard Soldiers who had just gotten back from Iraq attended the event. When the National Guard Soldiers were honored during the 7th inning stretch, they got a thunderous four minute standing ovation,"
"I thought to myself, 'We might have something here.'"
The event grew to 35 Veterans in 2009, and blossomed into an educational event that saw 67 Veterans on the field in 2010.
In 2011, the event had grown too large to hold on one night alone, and it was expanded to Patriotic Weekend at Volcanoes Stadium.
2011 was also the first year of the "Fallen Warrior" ceremony, a tradition that will continue for many years to come. For each Patriotic Weekend, Jerry contacts the family of an Oregon Fallen Warrior and invites them to the stadium for a very emotional ceremony. A memorial for the individual is set up at home plate where they are honored, followed by a heartfelt moment of silence for all Fallen and Missing Warriors.
Both 2012 and 2013 also saw improvements, paving the way for an incredible 2014 Patriotic Weekend.
This year, the event has grown bigger than ever, in large part due to the very special news the Volcanoes received during this offseason.
"We were notified by The Office of the Secretary of Defense that we had been selected as the Oregon site for the 50-Year Vietnam War Commemoration," Jerry said. "We began extensive preparations immediately."
This commemoration will take place on the night of July 4th, where 200+ Vietnam Veterans will be thanked, honored, and saluted. Also, a drone from the Roswell Flight Center will be at the game entertaining fans, and delivering the game ball from the umpire to the starting pitcher's hand.
Also, the Fallen Warrior ceremony will take place on the night of the 4th. This year, the ceremony will be for Marine Corps Lance Corporal Bill Koho, of Bend, who was killed in Vietnam in 1967 at the age of 19. His family will be in attendance for this emotional ceremony.
Of course, because it is the 4th of July, the game will conclude with an epic firework show.
The night of July 5th will be the Oregon National Guard Appreciation Night. There will be 30 organizations that work with Military families on the concourse handing out helpful information and helping us thank, honor and salute the Oregon National Guard. Just like the night before, an awesome firework show will bring this great night to a close.
The night of July 6th will be the All-Branch Armed Forces Appreciation Night along with Oregon Paralyzed Veterans of America Appreciation Night. This night will be dedicated to honoring all those warriors from the Marines, Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard who did not participate in the Vietnam War and are not members of the Oregon National Guard.
During all three games of the series, the Volcanoes team will be wearing their stars and stripes jerseys, and 176 American flags will decorate the ballpark.
Overall, hundreds upon hundreds of Veterans will be thanked, honored, and saluted during this years powerful and heartfelt Patriotic Weekend.
When asked what Patriotic Weekend means to him, Jerry responded, "As an Air Force Veteran, it means the wonderful opportunity to thank, honor and salute the many brave men and women of the Armed Forces - both past and present - for their service and in some cases 'Ultimate Sacrifice' for the United States of America."
This three day weekend will be filled with many heartfelt standing ovations, tears, and memories, as every member of the Salem-Keizer community has been impacted by the bravery and courage of these men and women.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.