It's a symbol of freedom. A symbol of pride. And for the Fork Union prep team, it's a symbol of motivation.
Prior to every game the Blue Devils play this season, starting with Saturday's nationally televised opener, the team will be led onto the field by the stars and stripes, courtesy of Army Lieutenant Colonel Donald Moore.
A former cadet and player at Fork Union himself, Moore offered the team use of a flag he flew while stationed in Afghanistan on September 11, 2010, exactly nine years after the attacks of 9/11.
FUMA coach Micky Sullivan explains how the idea came about.
"(Moore) said 'I've got a flag I flew over in Afghanistan' and I thought really? He said 'yeah, I'll give it to you.' Well it just kind of went from there and I think it's a way to honor America, honor our guys, honor all the people standing in harm's way all across the way. I just think that's a cool thing to do."
It's not rare for football teams to carry Old Glory onto the field, but what makes Fork Union different is many former and current cadets go on to serve their country, something Moore hopes today's players realize when they look at his flag.
"Just to bring a sense of reality to these young men of not just me, but the many alumni that have left from this school and have gone out there and have given for the sake of this country. And some of them pay the ultimate sacrifice."
"There are guys that wear that uniform, the blue uniform, are also wearing the other uniform that are protecting us. They're our guys," Sullivan explained. "It means something to me."
the hope at fork union is to use moore's flag from afghanistan for the team's opener saturday and then use flags from other service alumni in games after that.
Now the Executive Director of Development at Fork Union, Moore is back where it all began. He'll be in attendance Saturday and the thought of watching his former coach and team run out onto the field waving his flag stirs up emotion in the retired vet.
"Wow. Still get a little choked up when I hear the national anthem. It's very symbolic of so many things. Of those that came before me."
"Well I hope I'm a patriot and I don't get too choked up but to me it's kind of cool," Sullivan added. "I think it's a way to honor all the men and women around the world standing in harm's way every day."
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