Nats set to host Military Appreciation Night

Nats set to host Military Appreciation Night

Nats set to host Military Appreciation Night
If you're part of the nation's proud military tradition, the Nationals want YOU to attend Monday's game.

A day after the United States brought Osama bin Laden to justice, the Nationals will stage Military Appreciation Night in Monday's series finale against the defending World Series champion Giants.

The Nationals are offering thousands of free tickets to veterans in honor of the occasion. Military personnel can receive up to four complimentary tickets by just showing up at the box office with a valid ID.

"It's extremely important to us," said Nationals director of community relations Israel Negron. "Ever since we came to Washington D.C., the military community has been important to us. The Pentagon is right down the street.

"We've really focused on it the last couple of years, and we've worked closely with the Department of Defense, the USO and others in the military community. One of the things we've focused on is making sure we're taking care of military families. And oftentimes the family member is here and the service member is deployed elsewhere."

The Nationals have held Military Appreciation Night before, but Monday night coincides with the introduction of the 2011 Patriotic Series. Games in the series will feature ticket offers to encourage fans to celebrate the American spirit by enjoying the national pastime at Nationals Park. New uniforms, featuring the stars and stripes Curly "W," will also be unveiled Monday and will be worn during future Patriotic Series games.

Future Patriotic Series games include Memorial Day on May 30 against the Phillies, Independence Day on July 4 against the Cubs, Labor Day on Sept. 5 against the Dodgers, and Heroes Day on Sept. 11 against the Astros.

Washington has been donating 29 tickets to wounded servicemen and their families to every game, and soldiers have come from nearby facilities like Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the National Naval Medical Center and Fort Belvoir.

"Getting people to the park from the military is important to us on a daily basis, but it takes on an additional significance on a day like this," Negron said. "We expect Monday to be special because they'll be cheering on their own."

The Nationals hope that their stadium -- with the Capitol in view on the horizon -- can serve as a sanctuary for military personnel and their families.

"Baseball can play such a key role in being a fun place for kids to go -- both when a parent is deployed and also when they come back home," Negron said. "That readjustment can be hard, and we think of the ballpark as a great place for that family to go. The beauty of baseball is that you can sit down and have a conversation while the game is going on."

Other patriotic efforts already in place at Nationals games including the third-inning military salute, which occurs at every home game, and the "Me and a Friend" initiative, which offers military children complimentary tickets for themselves and friends to each Sunday home game.

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for Evan Drellich contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.