Every match, as part of the pregame ceremonies, active service members from the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard and Reserves surround and raise the American flag during the Star Spangled Banner. This group of 25 or 50 men and women is one of many ways the organization recognizes those that serve and served.
At about half of the home games the club hosts various service members reenlist prior to the match. Those that re-up in this manner get a coin from the team, a scarf from the Armed Services Group (an ECS subgroup dedicated to active service members and veterans who support Sounders FC) and share their career choice with the team they love.
This season there was even a moment when a soldier returning from overseas surprised his family on the pitch. These things are just a sampling of what Sounders FC does to support its fans and supporters serving the country now. They are a nod of the head to everyone who served in the past as well.
With five military bases in just about an hour’s drive from CenturyLink Field, the club reaches out and responds to the needs of that community. The man in charge of these efforts is Fan Development International Outreach Manager Armando Meija, who is a veteran and the primary point of contact between the club and members of the military. Meija spent 11 years in the Army in one shade of green.
“It’s a privilege for me to be working here. I get to connect with the military in the community and let them know that we are here to support them,” he says of his opportunity to don a scarf and the Rave Green sharing his smile with veterans and active duty service members alike.
Each year the club does Military Appreciation Day. Like many things in Seattle soccer it is bigger than expected and grows every year. It is a way to recognize the portion of the soccer community that wore green or blue or white, and on game days is in green and blue and shale.
Today is one of those times of recognition as well. On this November 11 of 2013 let us all extend another thank you to those that served as well as those serving. There’s so much that you are doing and that you’ve done that let us enjoy this game we love.