By LANCE MASTERSON
Of the Keizertimes
Ten months of planning comes down to one night of celebration at Volcanoes Stadium on Sunday, July 4.
Patriotic Night, as it’s being called, is the Volcanoes’ way of saluting those who have served in the U.S. military, past and present.
Jerry Howard, the team’s senior sales executive, said he began organizing this event in October.
One phone call led to another, he added, and the next thing you know 18 honored guests and 18 organized groups were confirmed participants as of earlier this week.
“It just kind of snowballed,” said Howard of the response. “I’d be talking to someone about participating in the event and then that person would say you know who you really should talk to is …. Or I’d have people calling me asking if they or their group could participate.”
The highlight of an evening otherwise filled with highlights, could be when 50 men and women are inducted into the U.S. Army.
“They’re going to join the Army at home plate,” said Howard, who will escort Col. Leonard Law to his designated spot so that Law can administer the “Oath of Enlistment.”
Testimony to Howard’s efforts are filed in a binder he carries with him. The binder, which is some three inches thick, contains contact and biographical information on every honored guest and organization. He has most of the information memorized.
This list of confirmed guests range from 104-year-old Lt. Jim Lindquist who was born before World War I, served in World War II, and still enjoys a trip to Spirit Mountain, to Specialist Jeremy Pierce, an Oregon resident who lost his right leg and left toes and fingers when his jeep hit an IED in Iraq.
Pierce was born in Salem and lives in Stayton. He is rehabbing at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. Special arrangements were made to fly him here for Patriotic Night. Pierce will fly back to Walter Reed after the game.
Pierce is one of four veterans who will throw ceremonial first pitches. Joining Pierce are Marine Capt. David Parker, Oregon National Guard Major Amy Payton and Brigadier General Dan York of the U.S. Army.
Like Pierce, this trio of honorees is from Oregon.
Parker served three tours of duties in Viet Nam and was severely injuring during each tour. But he became a paraplegic when injured on his third tour. Parker is past president of the National Paralyzed Veterans of America.
Other honored guests will be presented between innings and before the game.
The night’s theme will be present front and center as the Oregon State Defense Force Pipe Band plays for those entering the ballpark.
“They’ll be piping people in,” said Howard.
Also at the front gates: The Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution, 1st U.S. Calvary and 2nd U.S. Ranger Battalion-Dog Company reenactment groups.
The night will also feature a moment of silence for fallen soldiers, playing of “Taps” and “The Star-Spangled Banner” by the 204th Army Band, a fly over, and fireworks spectacular.
If all goes according to schedule, the fly over will coincide with the last few notes of the national anthem.
In addition, Keizer’s own Brianne Beaty performs her original composition, “Parades” after the game and prior to the fireworks show.
Beaty lives in Nashville and is a singer-songwriter. She is also a founding member of “Sweethearts for Soldiers,” which is comprised of NFL and former NFL cheerleaders who tour the Mideast.
Gates open at 5:15 p.m. The pre-game concert by the 204th Army Band begins at 5:40 p.m., with pre-game ceremonies beginning at 6:30 p.m.
First pitch in the game between the Volcanoes and Vancouver Canadians is at 7:15 p.m. [MAP: 9]