Military Appreciation Night honors active duty military and veterans with evening of baseball

Published 6:30 pm Friday, April 14, 2017

Almost 30 veterans and active military men stood on the Bearcat Diamond Wednesday looking at a crowd gathered to honor them.

Each with a different background, upbringing and lifestyle, one phrase rang truer than ever to unite them all.

One nation, under God.

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Military Appreciation Night was created to recognize the heroes of our country, right here in our hometown. The Bearcats baseball players put on special jerseys for the event, with American flags on the sleeves and red, white and blue accents. Camouflage hats with the signature purple Bearcat “B” were worn on their heads.

Bainbridge’s opponent, Tift County, also sported camouflage jerseys for the game.

Before first pitch, players from both teams individually shook each military serviceman’s hand.

“I was excited about the number of veterans that came out,” said Bearcat Dugout Club member Keith Lyle. “I was also proud of our community for the great number in attendance to help us honor the veterans. It was truly an amazing night for the veterans, the baseball players and the fans. It makes you proud to be an American and a Bearcat.”

The evening’s guest of honor, retired Lt. Col. John E. Davis, spoke to the Bearcat team before the game.

A native of Ambrose, Georgia, Davis has 25 years of military service. He was the battalion operations officer for the 648th engineer battalion 48th brigade company team with the Georgia Army National Guard during deployment to Iraq in 2005-06.

Davis is also a recipient of the Bronze Star, a medal awarded to members of the U.S. Armed Forces for heroic service or achievement in a combat zone.

“I had a chance to talk to them about leadership, teamwork and being able to be gentleman and a leader in the community,” Davis said. “I explained to them words are like a bullet, once you say it, you can’t get them back.”

That fact that the players, the Decatur County School System and the community came together for an event honoring the veterans made Davis proud to serve, he said.

“It was humbling, more than anything else,” Davis said. “It made it all worthwhile.”