When the crisp cold of November settles on the crowds at sporting events across America this weekend, the public announcer will read off a message asking for veterans to stand and be recognized for their sacrifices.
My grandfather will rise adorned in his University of Arkansas Razorback red at the basketball game against the University of Montana this Saturday. I used to look up to him and smile with pride as the whole arena or stadium applauded. Now that I am a student at Mississippi State University, I still feel that same sense of pride even if I cannot see him stand in the crowd.
For the past three years, I have been almost 500 miles away, covering sports at Mississippi State University for The Reflector. Every military appreciation game reminds me of the men and women who sacrificed so much to protect our home. It also reminds me of going to sporting events with my grandfather.
Without my grandfather, I probably would not write about sports. Thanks to him, I have been blessed to see so many Razorback games in my lifetime, and I have been blessed to experience so many great moments. We would not be able to enjoy sports or share special moments with family and friends without veterans. I can still remember my grandfather jumping with joy as Arkansas beat LSU 17-0 on military appreciation night in 2014.
Currently, 2,977 students, including dependents, make up the veteran community at MSU according to a press release from the MSU athletic department. We can never give veterans enough thanks for their sacrifices. Without their efforts, we would not be able to feel safe in our homes, we would not be able to produce a newspaper and we would not be able to enjoy sports.
One military appreciation game per season is not enough to give thanks. When I rise to sing the national anthem at sporting events that I report on, I can feel the same pride in my Grandfather and the veterans like him in my heart. When the "Star Spangled Banner" ends and we all collectively take a seat as Americans to watch a sporting event, we are able to do so because of the brave.
I am always in awe of how united stadiums are when the anthem is sung, or when the military aircraft fly over and everyone looks up, releasing a collective cheer. Moments of unity, of thanks, is what gives me special pride in America.
Thank you, veterans, for working to keep this land free, and thank you, Grandpops, for taking me to games as a kid. Thank you for supporting me in my journalism career.