SHELBY, NC - August 2, 2019 -- The military-focused events related to the 2019 American Legion World Series (ALWS) begin even before the games Aug. 15-20. The 208th Army Band will perform as the opening act for country artist Martina McBride during the N.C. American Legion 7th Inning Stretch Festival Saturday, Aug. 10. The band is a U.S. Army Reserve Band whose primary mission is to promote the esprit de corps of the nation's fighting forces and act as musical goodwill ambassadors for the Army throughout the entire Southeastern United States and Puerto Rico. The band will perform at 6:00 PM; McBride will take the stage at 8:00 PM. Both concerts will be in Uptown Shelby and are open to the public at no charge.
Once the games start, the military emphasis will increase. The 100th anniversary of The American Legion has a specific logo that will be prominent throughout the series, especially at Keeter Stadium. A special section in the Official Program is dedicated to the anniversary of the nation's largest veterans' organization and ceremonies during the games will include recognition of the milestone.
Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Harold "Hal" Fritz will be the guest speaker for a players' lunch on Friday, Aug. 16, at American Legion Post 155 in Kings Mountain and be the guest of honor at a private dinner that evening in Shelby. On Saturday, Aug. 17, USAA Military Appreciation Day, Fritz will be honored on Veterans Field between the first and second game of the day. Between the second and third game, he will lead a procession of veterans onto the field as members of the Crest High School Marching Band play a medley of the anthems of the five military branches.
Local soldiers from the N.C. Army National Guard 505th Combat Engineer Battalion, who served in the Middle East and returned from deployment late last year will march onto the field after the veterans. The families of the returning soldiers will be seated in a cordoned area in front of the Lowe's Center for the ceremony and the game. The National Guard will provide the Color Guard for that game.
All active military personnel and all veterans will receive free admission to the three games that day. Making an appearance before the 1:00 PM game will be members of the N.C. Legion Riders; they will stage at Post 155 in Kings Mountain, arrive in Shelby at 11:45 AM, and ride around Keeter Stadium at noon.
USAA will provide challenge coins and commemorative caps to attending veterans; the items will be available at the American Legion Post 82 tent on the third base concourse.
The Legion Riders, as part of the Legacy Run, will make a major entrance into Shelby-Cleveland County on Championship Tuesday, Aug. 20. Between 400 and 500 riders, escorted by law enforcement officers, will come from the south and enter Cleveland County on Highway 150, then take Highway 18 into Shelby about 2:00 PM. They will travel Lafayette Street to the Court Square, then take a right on Marion Street to access Highway 74 Bypass. They will stop in Kings Mountain and approximately 40 Legion Riders will return to Keeter Stadium to provide the Color Guard for the game.
For more information on military-related events, contact Jim Quinlan of the ALWS staff at 704-419-3136.
Submitted by Judy Gaultney