ESCANABA — Area veterans were honored Thursday night at the home opener of the Escanaba Eskymos. Eighty-three veterans were greeted to handshakes from the football players of both teams as they thanked the veterans for their service.
“At the first home football game, we have a picnic that we provide area veterans,” said Rusty Bluse, Eskymos Fan Club vice president, “to say a little thank you.”
The group gathered near the grandstands for brats and hamburgers from members of the fan club and the Escanaba Elks Lodge. Bluse said it is an opportunity to talk with other veterans as they wait for the start of the football game.
They were then escorted out onto the field for a special pre-game recognition.
“They got a nice round of applause from the crowd as they walked out. I think that’s important to them,” Bluse said.
After the Eskymos ran out on the field they joined the veterans for the national anthem and then lined up to shake the hand of every veteran.
“What the players do is they take their helmets off and they go through and shake the veterans’ hands and thank them. It’s really neat for the veteran, they really enjoy it, and the kids like it,” said Bluse.
He said it teaches players respect for what the veterans have done for this country.
Players from Petosky joined the Eskymos as they greeted the veterans. Each took their turn to thank each veteran.
Clint Carlson said he was proud to be on the field.
“It was kind of humbling, very humbling for me. I’m not used to that but it was pretty cool,” said veteran Clint Carlson.
Bluse said he doesn’t think a veteran can be thanked enough for the things they had to tolerate.
“I think it’s important to us to continually honor them,” Bluse said.