Dion Booker started on NU’s last conference championship team in 1999.
By Randy York
Nebraska’s baseball team will wear camouflage jerseys on Friday night and “camo” hats throughout the weekend. It’s the Huskers’ way to honor all active veterans and retired military personnel who will receive free admission to all three Nebraska-Ohio State baseball games this weekend. It’s Military Appreciation Weekend, and “We want to show our appreciation and honor the men and women of the military for everything they do for our country,” said Sunny Russell, president of the Nebraska Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). Russell and eight fellow SAAC members will hand out bracelets for Big Red fans Friday night. Each bracelet has a camouflage background with this message printed in red: Husker Heroes…United We Stand!
Baseball and military heroes celebrate a storied tradition together – from American Legion summertime high school baseball programs to Major League Baseball’s Tribute for Heroes campaign that promoted last year’s MLB All-Star Game in New York City. Nebraska student-athletes originated a theme of their own – RED Friday – and it stands for Remembering Everyone Deployed. Neil Dufford, Russell’s predecessor as SAAC president, came up with the idea. “Neil and several members of SAAC took the same bracelets over to the Student Union last year and passed them out to fellow students to remind us all to remember everyone who’s deployed,” Russell said. “This weekend is our way to follow up what we already have going.”
In the past, SAAC members launched RED Friday through Life Skills as a way to support troops overseas until they all come home. The idea was to stand behind those who serve with SAAC and UNL ROTC jointly promoting wearing RED on Fridays. “We want to let our servicemen and servicewomen know that we support their dedication and sacrifice and that we will not forget them and what they do for our country,” Russell said.
Dion Booker, an Army Captain and former Husker football safety, is currently serving his country in Manhattan, Kan. As a previously deployed soldier, he appreciated his alma mater’s support while overseas. A four-year NU letterwinner, Booker earned honorable mention All-Big 12 recognition from conference coaches. SAAC members embrace the following poem as a statement that describes their passion for RED Friday:
We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies
The Nebraska-Ohio State three game series begins Friday at 6:35 p.m. and continues on Saturday at 2:05 p.m. and concludes Sunday at 1:05 p.m. Free admission is available for all veterans, active or retired. They must present their government-issued military ID, VFW/Legion card, or DD14F form at Haymarket Park’s gate to receive free admission. Family members can purchase tickets by calling the Nebraska Athletic Ticket Office at 1-800-8BIGRED, or the day of the game at the Ticket Office, located on the West side of Haymarket Park. Tickets also can be purchased and printed online here. As part of Military Appreciation Weekend, during each of the three games, Nebraska Athletics will recognize all veterans who are currently serving or have served our country.
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