Marlins fans catch dose of south Florida patriotism
By Staff Sgt. Arsenio Cortez
| | July 06, 2002
6TH MARINE CORPS DISTRICT, PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. --
About 21,000 Florida Marlins fans witnessed patriotism in action as this major league baseball franchise celebrated military appreciation day, July 6.
Standing ovations and cheers filled the stadium before the first pitch was even thrown. The cheers belonged to a series of events prepared by the Marlins to honor the men and women in uniform protecting the American way of life.
The first event was an inter-service swear-in ceremony representing the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard. In front of the enthusiastic stadium crowd, 70 future members of the U.S. Armed Forces standing in the infield took the oath of enlistment officiated by Army Brig. Gen. Galen Jackman, director of operations for U.S. Southern Command.
Although most of the future service members had signed up months before the ceremony, it was an exhilarating moment, according to Samantha S. Quiles, 18, of Hialeah Miami Lakes, Fla. She joined the Marine Corps in October 2001, breaking a family tradition of Army roots.
"I feel like a rebel, but also the strongest link. I hope to give the Marine Corps a good name (in my family)."
"I felt the strength from the crowd sent to me," added Chris Gomez, 19, of Miami Beach, Fla. Gomez enlisted in the Air Force in April 2001 and is going to basic training in September.
"It keeps morale and spirit high. Sometimes, you forget what you joined for. This puts you back on track," Gomez added.
The Marines stole the spotlight when Darina Cabrera, a local Marine mom from Miami, was presented a Blue Star Banner and a certificate of appreciation. She was honored for her support in her son's decision to join the Marine Corps. Cpl. Jose Cabrera, a 1999 graduate of Coral Gables High School, will be deployed in August with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
With the current war on terrorism still waging, it was only proper for Maj. Daniel Q. Greenwood, who returned from Afghanistan just a few months ago, to present the banner to Cabrera. Greenwood, now the commanding officer of Recruiting Station Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was the operations officer of Battalion Landing Team 3/6 with the 26th MEU when Marines engaged the enemy at Kandahar Airport in January.
The Blue Star Mother Ceremony was a real display of patriotism, according to Greenwood.
"Having just returned from Afghanistan, I understand how important what Cpl. Cabrera is doing for the United States and how important to be supported by his mom. Since World War I, Blue Star Mother has a tremendous significance throughout the Armed Forces and the communities that support them. By continuing this tradition, we are able to recognize current-day patriotism and devotion to the nations' Armed Forces that our communities have reflected during the global war against terrorism," Greenwood explained.
During the ceremony honoring Cabrera, the jumbotron displayed a videotaped message from Cabrera thanking his mom and his fellow Floridians. While the message was playing, Cabrera walked onto the field with a bouquet of flowers for his mother.
"On behalf of all the Marines, I'd like to thank everyone for your support to those who are deployed fighting for our nation's freedom and way of life," he said.
Sailors also partook in a reenlistment ceremony, reaffirming their dedication and commitment in serving their country. A combined-service color guard presented the colors for the National Anthem, sung by Lt. Cmdr. Amelia Sweeney, U.S. Southern Command as two Coast Guard helicopters flew over the stadium. Representatives from the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard officially kicked off the game between the Marlins and the New York Mets by throwing the first pitches.
"The military and the communities in South Florida have a very strong relationship," Greenwood said. "The Marlins Military Appreciation Day represents the strong support to the military by the civilian community in South Florida."