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Lee’s Military Appreciation Day raises $12,000 for Honor Guard

From the Cleveland Daily Banner: The Lee University baseball team has helped raise funds for several veterans and military support organizations o

From the Cleveland Daily Banner: The Lee University baseball team has helped raise funds for several veterans and military support organizations over the years with a special day and game to honor those who have served and are currently serving in the Armed Forces.

This year was no exception, as the April 15 Military Appreciation Day event raised $12,000 for the Bradley County Veterans Funeral Honor Guard. The game was held at Larry Carpenter Stadium at Olympic Field, and was the first of a double header against Union University of Jackson, Tennessee.
The Honor Guard is made up of local veterans who perform special duties at funerals for veterans and at events such as Veterans Day and Memorial Day ceremonies.
“We provide a 21-gun salute and TAPS, and on occasions, we have been asked to fold the flag and present it to the family,” explained John Thomason of the Honor Guard. “Since I’ve been a part of this in 2015, we’ve done over 800 in Bradley County and Southeast Tennessee, and right now, we are doing one or two a week.”
The Honor Guard received assistance through the Military Appreciation Day several years ago, and Lee University baseball coach Mark Brew said he wanted to help that group again this year.
Brew said helping this group is personal to him.
“As the son of someone who served, when my father passed away, seeing [the Honor Guard presentation] was very emotional. It was very special, and I was very thankful and honored for that,” the coach said.
Brew said the special event could not have been as successful as it was without the support of several sponsors, including Bank of Cleveland, Zaxby’s, Dick’s Graphics and Printing, Cleveland Ford, Duracell, the Tennessee National Guard, and the Cleveland Daily Banner.
“These funds will assist us in taking care of our van and other needs we have within the Honor Guard opportunities,” Thomason said. “We are so thankful for the donations that were given because it helps us continue to serve the veterans of Bradley County and the surrounding area.”
The Military Appreciation Day originated in 2013, and has been an annual event since then, with the exception when the event took a hiatus for a couple of years due to COVID restrictions. It returned in 2022, with proceeds from that game going to the Tennessee State Veterans Home.
“We stress service on our campus, and we want to support our community, and for me, my heart lies with the military,” Brew said. “So, as the son of a veteran, as someone who has seen it firsthand and the impact it had on my family, it’s just the least we can do is come in and help provide some resources.
“We are so honored that we are able to do that,” he added.
Brew added the Military Appreciation Day is even more special to his team, as some members are sons of military parents.
“Like our community is steeped in tradition of service to the military, we have a lot of players on our team whose parents, grandparents, brothers … in fact, we have one player whose brother is in Parris Island [South Carolina, at the U.S. Marine Corps Recruitment Depot] right now getting his training to go overseas.
“We you have an event like this, it’s great to hear those stories and put them all together,” Brew said.
The coach said plans are for a Military Appreciation Day again next year, most likely in April.