By: Teresa Varley
The Steelers will take part in the NFL’s Salute to Service, honoring the men and women of the Armed Forces as a part of Veterans Day observance when they host the Bills at Heinz Field this Sunday.
“There is no greater sacrifice than putting your life on the line for your country,” said Steelers President Art Rooney II. “The men and women of our military that do that have my highest respect and regard. I know the entire organization feels the same way. A lot of our players spend as much time as they can on different veterans programs.
“It’s become an important part of the season, an important game in the season, for our team, organization and I know the fans appreciate being able to take time out to pay tribute to the veterans.”
The salute will be highlighted by honoring veterans from different wars, including World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Desert Shield, Iraq and Afghanistan, during a pregame ceremony. The veterans will be on the field alongside Steelers’ players for the National Anthem, which will be performed by Army Sgt. Corrin Campbell.
“It’s always a special day, in particular being able to honor a veteran from every war we can,” said Rooney. “There are fewer veterans now from World War II, so every year we can honor one of them is special. It’s a special day for us to be able to bring the veterans in and have them recognized and nobody deserves it more.”
Veterans from the USS Requin, the submarine on display outside of the Carnegie Science Center, will lead the Terrible Towel Twirl before kickoff.
The Steelers will also continue their season-long salute to local service members as a part of the ATI Hometown Hero program, something that began this year and has special meaning for those honored.
“It’s awesome,” said Charlotte David of the U.S. Navy, who was the Hometown Hero honored prior to the Steelers-Ravens game. “The people in this area are such big fans and it’s awesome the team reaches back out to show their appreciation. It was amazing to be honored at the game. I never experienced anything like that in my life. It was my first Steelers game and it was mind-blowing.”
A joint services swearing-in ceremony of new recruits will take place at halftime on Sunday, led by retired Lt. General William “Gus” Pagonis, and will include 10 recruits from the Marines, Army, Navy and Air Force. After they take their oath Pittsburgh singer Sputzy will perform “America the Beautiful,” and the Air Force Heritage of America Band will perform.
Other aspects for the Salute to Service include local veterans of The Marine Corps League Three Rivers Leatherneck Detachment 310 as the Color Guard and a commemorative coin to be used for the coin toss. Salute to Service banners will be displayed on field, camouflage towels will be used and camouflage ribbons will be worn. Players will wear seals representing different branches of the military on their helmets and footballs will have an NFL camouflage shield ribbon on them.
The Steelers honored the military earlier this season as well when they hosted Heroes at Heinz Fans can also visit Art Rooney Avenue before the game as each branch of the military will have a display.
Earlier this season the Steelers hosted “Heroes at Heinz Field,” an event annually done in conjunction with VA Healthcare VISN 4 to honor veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan who are now adjusting to civilian life. It was an opportunity for players to say thank you to the veterans who give so much.
“These guys and women are our heroes, our country’s heroes,” said defensive end Brett Keisel. “They put everything on the line for our freedoms and rights, everything we enjoy in this great country we live in.” * * *
For every point scored during the 32 Salute to Service games, the NFL will donate $100 to each of its core, military non-profit partners – the Pat Tillman Foundation, USO and Wounded Warrior Project ($300 total per point scored).