Nebraskan Jim Meier said he wants people to remember those who made the “ultimate sacrifice for their safety.”
The Waterloo man, along with local veterans groups and volunteers, will participate in the sixth annual Salute to Our Military and Families of the Fallen from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday at TD Ameritrade Park. The event will include activities before, during and after Creighton University’s 2 p.m. nonconference baseball game against Nevada.
Some 200 relatives of nearly 50 fallen soldiers or first responders from Nebraska, Iowa, Colorado, Kansas and Virginia will participate in the remembrance ceremony, said Meier, a Vietnam War veteran and organizer of the event.
“It’s a live civics lesson, and it’s done in a big way,” Meier said. “Most people want to say, ‘Thank you for your service and sacrifice.’ This event creates an opportunity for the public to do just that.”
For parents such as Pat Mracek of Alliance, events like Saturday’s are a way of keeping alive the memory of their children. Mracek’s son, Army Sgt. Cory Mracek, was killed in 2004 by an improvised explosive device while he served in Iraq. Pat Mracek is the president of the Nebraska Chapter of Gold Star Mothers, a service organization of mothers who have lost children in the service.
“Most of us feel like we need to keep their memories alive. We don’t want them to be forgotten,” she said. “We want to talk about and honor them so people don’t forget what they stood for and the sacrifices they made.”
A Family Fun Fest in the ballpark will open at 11:30 a.m., with bounce houses, face painting and more. Singer-songwriter Jimmy Weber, who has opened for Kenny Rogers, Tim McGraw and Rascal Flatts, will perform, as will Billy McGuigan, who performs music by Buddy Holly, the Beatles, Elton John and the Eagles.
A Families of the Fallen Walk will begin at 1:20 p.m., featuring families from southwest Iowa and eastern Nebraska who have lost a loved one in military service or first-responder duty. They will be led by bagpipers and flanked by Boy Scouts, the Omaha Public Schools’ Junior ROTC, American Legion Riders, National Guard members and others, Meier said.
A pregame show at 1:35 p.m. will include a flyover and skydiving, a display of POW-MIA and Honor and Remember flags, and a 50-by-100-foot U.S. flag carried by Junior ROTC members and the U.S. Strategic Command Elite Color Guard.
Small U.S. flags will be given to the first 10,000 people to arrive for the game. Five families of the fallen will be recognized, and the names of fallen soldiers and responders will appear on the stadium’s video screen.
Vouchers for six free reserved seats can be found at several Omaha-area businesses, listed at saluteourmilitarycommunity.com. Click on the “free vouchers” link.
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