Long before the opening kickoff, Maine West High School knows who the heroes will be for the Warriors' Aug. 24 football opener: The military personnel and veterans who will attend as West's guests of honor.
Maine West invites veterans and current military from throughout the area to receive some well-deserved public recognition during Military Appreciation Night, as the Warriors host Chicago Urban Prep in a 7:30 p.m. contest.
Veterans and military personnel should report to West's stadium, just off Wolf Road and Howard Avenue in Des Plaines, by 6 p.m. and check in at a reception tent near the north end zone. They will get free entry and a complimentary dinner from the Maine West Athletic Boosters.
Prior to the game, these guests will queue up along the sideline, to be introduced over the public address system by name, rank, service branch, and their years of service. During pregame warm-ups, the Warrior football players -- some of whom helped create this event -- will shake hands and thank the veterans. A veteran from each war or conflict will serve as an honorary captain for the coin toss.
To get in the spirit of the evening, fans are asked to forego school colors for one evening and to wear red, white and blue. Fans will receive small American flags and red, white and blue beads as they enter the stadium.
Fans are also encouraged to bring items for our current military fighting overseas. The USO will be at the entrance, collecting items that will be sent to our soldiers. During halftime, the Marching Warriors will play a variety of songs with patriotic themes.
In addition, representatives of each branch of the military will be present at the stadium with handouts and information. A color guard will also participate in the evening's ceremonies.
Assistant Principal/Students Dave Berendt said, "Maine West is very proud of all the veterans and those who are currently serving our country, and we wanted an opportunity to thank them. Dan Cardamone, a senior football player, has been instrumental in putting together this night to honor these great heroes."
Military Appreciation marks the first of five themed home football games for Maine West. Coming later in the 2012 season will be a Blackout night, Gold Rush, Hawaiian night and homecoming.