by Walt Johnson
The Denver Broncos once again opened their hearts and doors to the men and women of the U. S. military Sunday when it held its annual military appreciation event during the game with the Seattle Seahawks.
The military appreciation event has become an annual event at the stadium with the Broncos organization bringing members of the Army,
Navy, Air Force and Marines to the field to be publicly recognized and thanked for all they do to support the nation, according to Teresa Shear, Denver Broncos director of cheerleaders and game day entertainment.
“The Denver Broncos support, appreciate and respect the sacrifices our military personnel make for our nation on a daily basis,” said Shear. “This is our opportunity to publicly thank all of the brave men and women who serve in our Armed Forces for all they do to keep our country safe and free, and to also remember those lives that have been lost in defending our great nation.”
It didn’t take long for the servicemembers to understand how much the people attending the game appreciate what they are doing for the nation. The few Seahawks fans that were at the game and the Broncos fans were united on one front – to pay respect for the military members during pre-game festivities at the Bronco Barn, a place the Broncos set up for fans to watch other NFL games prior to the beginning of the game in the stadium. Person after person took the time to say thank you to the military members and spend a few minutes just talking with them to understand what they are doing for the nation.
As they made their way to the stadium for pre-game festivities, military members were greeted with loud applause and thank yous. One of the most touching moments of the entire day, came when a young man ran up to the Fort Carson Soldiers, extended his hand and said thank you to the Soldiers. His mother said it was a spontaneous action by the young man who seemed to be thrilled to be able to personally reach out and touch a Soldier’s hand.
Unlike previous years when each service representative was given a football on the field by a team representative, the Broncos chose to do something more special this year. John Elway, Hall of Fame quarterback, came to the tunnel and presented a souvenir ball to each of the service representatives and then took time out to pose for photos with as many of the servicemembers as he could, to the servicemembers’ delight.
After getting their highlight of the day it was time to march into the stadium where the 80,000-plus fans roared with approval as the military members were introduced to the crowd. No matter who the fans came to the game to root for, each of them were cheering and high-fiving each other in recognition of the military members. The recognition did not go unappreciated by the military members who, to a person, said it was great to get the applause and appreciation of a grateful fan base which reflected the attitude of the entire nation.
One of the Soldiers from the Mountain Post, Juanita Rico-Chavez summed up the feelings of the military contingent when she was asked how it felt to be a part of the event.
“I think it’s great that the Denver Broncos support the troops in this way and I think it’s a great way to show how much they support the troops. It’s going to be awesome to feel the support for all the troops in uniform (not just the troops in the stadium). You can’t get that feeling everyday as we go about our mission because we aren’t in contact with people like we will be today, but at an event like this you can feel the support of the nation for what we do,” Rico-Chavez said.