"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must undergo the fatigue of supporting it." -- Thomas Paine
The San Diego Padres are proud to support the men and women of the United States Military, past and present, who carry the weight of that fatigue for all of us.
In 2010, we had the opportunity to honor the only Padres player killed in military combat.
Manuel "Nay" Hernandez played for the minor-league Padres of the Pacific Coast League in 1944. Drafted into the Army, he was killed March 22, 1945 as his division fought to capture a chemical processing center in Germany.
That was 66 years ago, but it hardly can be relegated to the history pages.
During a pregame ceremony June 14 of last season, we presented Mr. Hernandez's sister Tina and his son Manuel Jr. ("Baby Nay") with a U.S. flag flown over PETCO Park on Memorial Day in his honor. We also unveiled a large display that commemorates Mr. Hernandez's playing career and his sacrifice to the country. You can see that display in the Power Alley area near right field.
I was touched as I witnessed the tears from the Hernandez family. Mr. Hernandez's sacrifice is every bit as fresh and relevant today as it was when he helped the Allied cause in 1945. His family has shared that sacrifice every day since.
We consider our support of the military a great responsibility; and one which we are committed to.
We stepped up that commitment in several ways. Our Padres Military Logo is a very visible way that we honor those who serve. We expanded the Military Appreciation ticket pricing to include a veterans program. We added six Branch Appreciation dates to the calendar this year. We supported the military programs at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in February, where proceeds helped the Fisher House at Naval Medical Center, San Diego. The Fisher house assists military families during times of medical crisis.
We are proud of those programs, but it's the personal moments that are most touching.
On Memorial Day last year, we hosted a group of Pearl Harbor veterans. I had the good fortune to meet Mr. Jerry Kranz, who was with the first Marine division to land on Iwo Jima in 1945. I invited Mr. Kranz to join me at a Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation dinner later that week, where I was the honorary chair.
We recognized Mr. Kranz at the dinner and presented him with a Padres jersey. He got a standing ovation from a room of 300 Marines and later said it was one of the best days of his life.
It is an honor to be able to recognize people like Mr. Kranz and Mr. Hernandez. These are ordinary people who did extraordinary things and made great sacrifices for all of us - acting with humility and courage.
As we celebrate our nation's birthday on July 4th, please join us at the Padres in recognizing the men and women of the United States Military, past and present, who have sacrificed so much so that we may all live in freedom and prosperity.