Now that the amazing 2007-2008 National Football League season is over, and outstanding Packer quarterback Brett Favre has decided to retire, it may be time to reflect on what is good about professional football.
Formed in 1919, the Green Bay Packers is the oldest franchise in the NFL. There is no way that Green Bay, Wis., a town of 100,000 should be able to fill a stadium of 72,000, support a big-league franchise and achieve a record of accomplishment at the highest level. Yet that is what has happened over the course of the past 89 years.
In early September 2007, my wife, Connor, and I watched the whole scene unfold as we sat in a huge crowd of rabid fans. There was much more than a football game going on that Sunday. In a pregame ceremony, Brian Williams of NBC News introduced 62 recipients of the Medal of Honor who were on the field. The standing ovation went on for many minutes.
When people around us in the stands found out that we had a long association with the military, they thanked us for our service, gave us high-fives and let us know how pleased they were that we were visiting their fair city. The Packers won that season-opening game in the last two seconds. The stadium went bonkers. The Green Bay Packers went on to a very successful season.
FOR THAT ENTIRE week, Green Bay played host to the annual convention of the Medal of Honor Society. At the grand banquet on Friday night, each Medal of Honor recipient was introduced, and the standing ovation rocked the hall. A recipient was placed at each of the tables so every person in the large audience was able to meet and visit with at least one recipient.
At that dinner, Deanna and Brett Favre received an award from the Medal of Honor Society for their outstanding work in support of various charities, including breast cancer awareness and prevention. All of us who visited Green Bay came home with the strong feeling that this city has its act together. The citizens of Green Bay and the surrounding countryside demonstrated a sense of patriotism that was clearly genuine.
In a couple of months, Georgians will have an opportunity to meet and honor many of our Medal of Honor recipients. Two events are coming up in Atlanta in May. On May 15 at the grand ballroom of the Georgia Aquarium, 25 Medal of Honor recipients will be honored at a banquet that evening. Also receiving tributes will be former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn and Kimberly Dozier, the CBS correspondent who was so badly wounded in Iraq on Memorial Day, 2006. Everyone in attendance will receive a copy of Breathing the Fire, Dozier's brand-new book.
Since there are very few seats left for the dinner, anyone interested in attending this event, should contact me soon. The funds raised that evening will go to the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation. Important educational outreach programs, which the recipients are dedicated to support, are a major part of the mission of the foundation.
AT NOON THE next day, May 16, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Atlanta, there will be another event at which the 25 recipients will be in attendance. This is a fund-raiser for Atlanta's own National Museum of Patriotism, which will soon move to its new location in the downtown area. Lee Greenwood will sing. Some people think the song that he wrote, God Bless the U.S.A, has become our second national anthem. At this event, Medal of Honor recipients will be signing and personalizing copies of the best selling book Medal of Honor, which highlights the remarkable life stories of America's living recipients. Anyone interested in obtaining a table at this event should contact George Wieder or Pam Boyd at (404) 875-0691.
For those who are long-term planners, Medal of Honor recipient, Sammy Davis will be visiting Augusta in November. During the Vietnam War, Davis was badly wounded across his entire back, yet he saved the lives of a number of badly wounded soldiers. Steven Spielberg used Sammy's story in the movie Forrest Gump. It is fair to say that Sammy Davis is the real Forrest Gump. The Boy Scouts will be hosting a dinner in his honor Friday, Nov. 14. For details, please contact Jeff Schwab, the leader of this region's Boy Scouts, at (706) 733-5277.
The writer is a retired U.S. Air Force major general, and the secretary of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation. He can be reached by calling (706) 738-9133, or by e-mailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.