WASHINGTON -- The Washington Nationals paid tribute to the Navy during their "Salute to the Navy" game at Nationals Park April 12. Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus attended the opening ceremonies, administering the oath of enlistment to 18 future sailors and throwing the first pitch.
"For the Sailors and their families it's great for them to come out here and get the appreciation and get the fact that America loves what they do and they value what they do," said Mabus. Mabus referred to the Navy as America's away team and said that when Sailors are out doing their jobs they are often a long way from home, separated from their family for long periods of time.
Spouses of deployed Sailors attended the event as well and ran onto the field with the starting eight National's players. Mabus said that spouses and family members sacrifice every bit as much as their deployed loved ones and that America should take every opportunity to say thank you to them because they do not hear it enough.
"Our operational tempo has been incredibly high. Families who are left behind have to maintain the family," said Mabus. "They have to keep going." Other events included a Navy Band men's quartet singing the National Anthem as the Navy Ceremonial Guard presented the colors and Yeoman 1st Class Derrick Neese, the Department of the Navy's Sailor of the Year, handing the ball off to National's pitcher Ross Detwiler to get the game started. Neese said he was just grateful to his wife Charlene and their three children for their love and support. A salute to the Wounded Warrior program took place during the third inning. Mabus stressed that there is no real way to adequately thank them for their sacrifice. "To all of the Sailors and Marines around the world, thank you for your skill, thank you for your sacrifices you make for us every day," he said.