Major League Baseball fans soon will begin the annual ritual of determining which players go to the All-Star Game, set for July 16 at Citi Field in New York. In the meantime, they can begin the process of determining 30 heroes who will be joining them there that night.
MLB and People magazine on Thursday announced the "Tribute for Heroes" campaign, an initiative that recognizes veterans and active military service members and builds upon both organizations' commitment to honoring two nation's military heroes, U.S. and Canadian.
From now through May 17, go to TributeforHeroes.com and nominate an active or former member of the Armed Forces of the U.S. or Canada who you want to represent his or her favorite MLB team at the 84th Midsummer Classic.
Once all the nominations are reviewed, three veterans/military service members per club (90 finalists) will be selected by MLB, the magazine and a celebrity panel of judges, which will be announced at a later date. You then will be asked to vote online from June 9-30 for your club favorite. All 30 winners, one representing each club, will be announced on July 10.
Those individuals will be recognized during the All-Star pregame ceremony and will be included in All-Star Week festivities leading up to the big game on FOX. A "Tribute for Heroes" winner also will be featured in People magazine the week of the All-Star Game.
"It is our privilege to honor the returning veterans and active military service members who risked and continue to risk their lives to protect our great nation," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "Major League Baseball is proud to use the national stage of the Midsummer Classic to celebrate the courage and sacrifices made by our veterans and active military service members."
If you flash back to the 2009-10 All-Star Games and the pregame introduction of those 30 "All-Stars Among Us" who were chosen in a similar MLB/People campaign, it is easy to imagine what a moving and emotional scene it will be to start this summer's All-Star Game. Fans cast 1.7 million votes to decide among the 90 candidates in 2010.
The "Tribute for Heroes" campaign will support Welcome Back Veterans, an initiative of MLB and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation that addresses the needs of veterans after they return from service. MLB has committed more than $23 million for grants to hospitals and clinics that provide post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) treatment to veterans and their families in a public/private partnership with "Centers of Excellence" at university hospitals throughout the U.S.
As part of its 2013 charity initiative, "People First: Help America's Veterans," People magazine is partnering with Welcome Back Veterans and three other nonprofit organizations that are committed to providing assistance to men and women who served in the military.
"For close to 40 years, People has told stories of everyday heroes whose acts of courage, commitment, strength and compassion have changed the lives of others," said Larry Hackett, the magazine's managing editor. "People is thrilled to be part of 'Tribute for Heroes,' a campaign that gives back to the brave men and women who have served in the military."
Look around your community, maybe your own family, and you probably have someone in mind to nominate. List that person's personal and professional accomplishments, military service, acts of heroism and community service -- in 500 characters or less in all three of those categories. Then it will be time for the public to decide which 30 heroes go to Citi Field.
Welcome Back Veterans funds programs at the University of Michigan, Rush University Medical Center, Duke University, Emory University, Weill Cornell in New York City, UCLA and the Red Sox's Home Base Program at Mass General Hospital in Boston. These institutions are developing new programs and strategies to improve the quality and quantity of and access to PTSD and TBI treatment for veterans, particularly those returning from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Visit WelcomeBackVeterans.org to donate to that fund or for more information on available services.