Throughout 2011, the Heroes of the Diamond will complete the “Road to Ground Zero Flag Tour.” On Thursday, July 21, the Tennessee Smokies and Smokies Park have been granted the honor of being part of this historic tour on the same night that the team will recognize police officers, firefighters, EMT’s and other first responders for their selfless acts serving our local communities.
The Ground Zero Flag will be presented on the field prior to the National Anthem and then again during the performance of “God Bless America” in the seventh inning stretch. Between the National Anthem and the performance of “God Bless America,” the Ground Zero Flag will be displayed on the stadium concourse, giving fans the opportunity to view and even touch the flag.
On site when former President George W. Bush delivered his famous “Bullhorn Speech” following the tragedy of September 11, 2001, the Ground Zero Flag has been presented to thousands of heroes in ceremonies from Iraq to Afghanistan over the past decade. This year, the Ground Zero Flag will be presented all over the nation offering everyone in America the opportunity to honor and touch it during the final leg of its nationwide journey back to New York for the 10th anniversary of 9-11.
Escorting and presenting the 9-11 flag will be the Heroes of the Diamond. Founded in 1990, at the request of former President George H.W. Bush, the Heroes of the Diamond are the only team in the world to feature players from every branch of the military and first responders. For over 20 years the team has been dedicated to the proud tradition “To promote the awareness of Americans in support of the honorable sacrifices our armed forces make.” Fans who choose to support to the Heroes of the Diamond by purchasing one of their books at their table on the stadium concourse will be automatically entered into a raffle to win a special camouflaged Heroes of the Diamond game-worn jersey.
Also scheduled for Thursday, July 21, is be the culmination of Smokies pitcher Trey McNutt and Smokies radio broadcaster Mick Gillispie’s drive to raise awareness and funds for the Mark Forester Price of Freedom Foundation. On September 29, 2010, Senior Airman Mark A. Forester, a beloved son, brother and friend, was killed in Afghanistan while attempting to save a fallen comrade.
A college scholarship has since been established in Mark’s memory, funded partially through McNutt and Gillispie’s efforts. Mark’s parents and brother will be in attendance for Thursday’s game to participate in the pre-game ceremony.
First pitch on Thursday, July 21, is set for 7:15 p.m. with gates opening at 6:00 p.m. as the Tennessee Smokies face-off against the Carolina Mudcats. Tickets for the July 21st game are free for all police officers, firefighters, EMT’s, paramedics and first responders with valid badge or ID. Family and friends of these local heroes will receive discounted $8 tickets for the game. For tickets and more information please visitwww.smokiesbaseball.com or call 865-286-2300.