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Disabled veterans are stars at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Disabled veterans may not be able to throw the perfect spiral pass, score a last-minute touchdown or throw a critical block, but they were stars at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, on Veterans Day weekend.

"It was an incredible event as officials of the Hall of Fame and members of the public visiting the shrine to professional football warmly displayed their deep appreciation for the service and sacrifice of disabled veterans," said National Communications Director Gary Weaver.

"We're here today to say thanks to our nation's 25 million veterans, and on behalf of the nearly 3 million disabled veterans in our country, a special thanks to those who have sacrificed on the fields of battle," Weaver told those who attended the Nov. 12 ceremonies. "War affects every American family, and the family of professional football is certainly one of them."

Weaver was joined by Pro Football Hall of Fame member Gale Sayers, who recounted a recent visit with our troops in the Middle East. Sayers was overcome with emotion when he spoke about the courage of the wounded young men and women he visited, telling the large audience at the Pro Football Hall of Fame they should "count your blessings."

Weaver introduced to the audience a special expanded version of the DAV video "GIs of the Gridiron" documenting the military services of football greats from World War II to the current war. "By telling the true-life stories of Chuck Bednarik, Art Donovan, A1 DeMao, Eddie LeBaron, Roger Staubach, Rocky Bleier and Pat Tillman, we are telling the stories of all our nation's veterans," he said. "We remind our nation that service has its price and that freedom is never free."

The inspiring video received a thunderous standing ovation by hundreds of guests at the Hall of Fame. In addition, more than 2,000 special DAV Veterans Day posters featuring some of the professional football players who served our nation were distributed to fans attending the commemoration. The posters were so popular that many more were requested by the Hall of Fame to be distributed during Thanksgiving weekend.

Meanwhile, disabled veterans and the DAV were honored elsewhere at numerous NFL games during the weekend. The "GIs of the Gridiron" was broadcast on local and cable television programs, Internet Web sites and the NFL Total Access Network during Veterans Day weekend.

"Most NFL teams have embraced the DAV and our mission of building better lives for disabled veterans and their families," said Washington Headquarters Executive Director David W. Gorman. "The NFL, its teams, the Pro Football Hall of Fame and other organizations have joined with us to recognize the service of disabled veterans to our nation."

More than 17 NFL teams have shown "GIs of the Gridiron" to their fans or in their community relations programs. In addition, 17 NFL teams have requested or are considering special DAV NFL player autograph cards for public appearances.

The cards produced for individual NFL teams feature some of the top players, who autograph them for fans during personal appearances. Each card contains a brief message about the DAV, information on how to contact the organization if a veteran needs help and how to access the DAV's Web site, www.dav.org.

"This season and in subsequent years, the DAV will be working with NFL teams to provide these cards to millions of football fans, both young and old," said Gorman. "Each will carry the DAV's message of compassionate and professional services we provide to disabled veterans and their families."
COPYRIGHT 2006 Disabled American Veterans
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:DAV Magazine
Geographic Code:1U3OH
Date:Jan 1, 2006
Words:588
Previous Article:Guard member, war hero becomes life member.
Next Article:Testimonial dinner for National Commander Jackson is April 29.
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