Veterans line up as VFW members present the colors at Ada's first Military Appreciation Night last Friday - Ada Herald
Veterans line up as VFW members present the colors at Ada's first Military Appreciation Night last Friday.

ADA — Courage. Honor. Sacrifice. Loyalty. Service. These virtues — and many others — were lauded Friday night during the Ada Bulldog’s home game with the Spencerville Bearcats. On the field, certainly. But, more importantly, off the field, as well, as the school held its first — though almost assuredly not last — salute to America’s military and the veterans who make this nation great.

Entitled simply Military Appreciation Night, the event found its genesis in none other than Shawn Christopher, a seventh grade math teacher at the school and the Bulldog’s new head football coach. Recognizing the veterans themselves would never choose to beat their own drums, Christopher — with the full support of the school’s administration — chose to do it for them.

“One of the first things as head coach, I wanted to establish some way to honor our veterans,” Christopher said. “The only thing I wish we could have done better is do more, because you can never do enough for people who have sacrificed so much.”

With that in mind, Christopher first went to the district’s new athletic director, Trent Temple — himself a veteran — with the idea. With Temple’s resounding support, Christopher then moved the event forward. The response he received was, in his words, “unexpected.”

“The response we got was phenomenal,” Christopher said. “All I did to publicize it was put it on social media, and my personal social media at that. We had 100 veterans respond very quickly.”

From there, it came down to planning. With the support of two local businesses — Everhart Trucking and Stahl Mowery Construction — food was purchased and special T-shirts printed.

On Friday, each veteran received dinner — prepared by Ada Athletic Boosters volunteers — a shirt, and free admission to the game. There, before the competition began, the veterans, all 100 plus, were invited to take the field. Members of Ada’s Ream McElroy VFW Post 9381 presented the colors, the Ada High School Marching Band performed a patriotic medley and the national anthem was sung by Courtney McLaughlin.

“I love this community,” Christopher said, praising those who stepped up to make the event a success. “I couldn’t see myself having such passion for this if it wasn’t for a community I love as much as I do.”

As mentioned earlier in this article, this was the first Salute to the Military held at an AHS sports event. As was also mentioned, it likely won’t be the last.

“I think this is something that gets people excited,” Christopher said. ” And you can never honor these veterans enough. I think this is something we’ll want to do every year. It’s something we’ll want to continue.”