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A roundup of news on sporting events, people and places in Southeast Michigan by columnist Jim Evans.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Detroit Tigers' broadcaster says thanks to military men and women

Please pause for just a moment between your third and fourth hot dog. Or, take a moment to reflect after your sixth beer and before your seventh beer.
Or maybe somewhere just shy of your fifth deviled egg.
Here's something that you see occasionally on bumper stickers, but is certainly something we should all pause and take a moment to digest: Freedom Is Not Free.
That's what the Fourth of July weekend is all about. That is why we should all pause and give thanks to the men and women in the military.
Detroit Tigers' broadcaster Mario Impemba did more than just pause. For the third consecutive year, Detroit Tigers’ fans currently serving in the United States Armed Forces can enjoy this season's home opener in the form of 'Operation Opening Day' -- a three-hour DVD containing FOX Sports Detroit's coverage of the Tigers 5-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals on April 8 at Comerica Park.
'Operation Opening Day' is a gift from Impemba, who is the FOX Sports Detroit play-by-play announcer, in cooperation with the Tigers and Major League Baseball Productions.
The video is available to all active members of the military. It contains pregame festivities, the entire game telecast and postgame interviews.
"It really struck me when we were on the preseason caravan in Lansing a few years ago. A group of reservists was getting ready to ship out to the Middle East,” said Impemba. “They talked about how much they regretted being gone for the Tigers’ home opener. Opening Day in Detroit is our annual holiday that brings our city together, something so many of the men and women in our armed forces do not have a chance to experience in person.
“While they are away serving our country, I am honored to bring Opening Day to them and hope this small piece of home lets them know how much we appreciate their service and sacrifice. This is just a small way of saying thanks to them."
Thanks is something we don't say enough, especially when it comes to the military. How do you properly express your gratitude for such a sacrifice? A handful of years of their lives at least. Tragically, for some, it is much more than that. Theirs is the ultimate sacrifice.
I sidestepped the war in Vietnam. I was part of the national lottery, and the date of my birthday came up somewhere in the 300s. I was one very happy guy. That's because by then I'd seen enough sadness.
I used to play the trumpet and that meant I'd get called out of school to play Taps at way too many funerals.
Impemba and his wife, Cathy, have two sons; Brett, 18, and Daniel, who is 15. Brett is a June grad from Dakota High School in Macomb Township. He will be playing baseball at Oakland University soon. Daniel is heading into his sophomore year at Dakota.
Mario Impemba has been part of the Tigers’ broadcast team for 10 years. His partner is Rod Allen. This is his 17th season broadcasting in the major leagues. Prior to joining the Tigers, he was the radio voice of the Anaheim Angels.
"When you think about it, a lot of the people serving in the armed forces are just 18 to 21 years old. They are still young men and women,” said Impemba. "I know when I turned 18, I registered for the draft because it was mandatory but I really did not think much about it. When you are a parent, your perspective is different. A lot of the people fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are the same age of Brett, or just a little bit older.”
Let’s pause and give thanks to our forefathers. They are the ones who secured our freedom. It was on the fourth of July in 1776 that the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress, setting the 13 colonies on the road to freedom as a sovereign nation. Much blood was shed in the Revolutionary War. Blood continues to spill to this day. Freedom is Not Free.
Troops, as well as family and friends of troops, can request the `Operation Opening day’ video at Orders must include a valid military address (APO, SPO or FPO address, military base or ship address) so the DVD gift can be mailed directly to the men and women currently serving
our country. Quantities are limited and requests will be fulfilled as
“If it brightens their day and makes them feel like they are home for even a little while, that is a great thing,” said Impemba. “The DVD is just a small token of our appreciation for what the men and women in the military do for all of us.”


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