During halftime on Sept. 5, military personnel will take the field at Hamburg Area High School for the fourth annual Armed Forces Recognition Night.
“I’ve always been awed by the bravery and commitment of people in the military,” said Aaron Menapace, athletic director. “I just decided a few years ago that it would be an appropriate venue to recognize all those who defend the freedoms we enjoy.”
Any active or retired military personnel from anywhere will be admitted into the game against Annville Cleona for free after showing their military credentials. Then during halftime they will take center stage on the field for a recognition ceremony which in the past has kept many in the stands. Each person is recognized followed by thunderous applause from the crowd.
“I believe our students respect the Armed Forces and as such react positively to the event,” said Menapace. “I believe everyone at the school is appreciative of the event. There are two pieces of the event that I really enjoy. First, that we appropriately recognize the courageous men and women who sign on to protect the United States. Secondly, the amazement and interest the students have in the equipment and soldiers has always put a smile on my face.”
In the past, as those that will recognized start to gather at the gate as halftime approaches, many catch up with each other and of course talk about the start of the football season and how they think the Hawks will do that year.
Since its start, Menapace said that the event has been a success and numbers have gradually increased. It is more than just the halftime recognition that gives the students and community members a chance to thank and speak with those that have served or are currently serving in the Armed Forces. Before and during the game, groups of military personnel set up areas near the entrance of the stadium to provide information to those that may be interested in serving. They also have the opportunity to speak to those that enter the stadium and can answer questions.
“The program has been successful each year. It works better if the military releases some equipment, such as Strykers, for the event. Kids enjoy it and it is a wonderful recruiting tool for the Army and Marines,” said Menapace.
Last year’s event had more military personnel participate than the previous two and that is something Menapace would love to see more of for future events.
“I’d love nothing more than to have hundreds of active and retired military personnel on the field for the halftime recognition,” he said. “I am hoping we have a large turnout especially with our opponent being from Annville and so close to Indiantown Gap.”
For those interested in taking part in the event and for those interested in a chance to thank those that have served and our currently serving, be sure to attend the Sept. 5 football game at Hamburg Area High School against Annville-Cleona with kickoff at 7 p.m.