Rival teams come together to honor veterans

South Central UP

UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WJMN) – Both the Marquette and Escanaba football programs came together to honor those who have served our country in their week three matchup. The Eskymos dedicate one home game a season to honor those veterans who have laid their lives on the line for our freedoms. This year’s game not only was Escanaba’s first home game since 2019 but also fell one day short of the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001.

“It felt really great because when I came back from overseas, back in Vietnam time, we weren’t welcome,” Fred Charles, a Marine Corp Veteran in attendance said. “Now, what they’re doing now, it makes all of us really feel great, really feel like it was worth it.”

This warm welcome home even if it was decades later means so much to many of the veterans who were attending the game on Friday.

“It’s good, it’s great, it shows in the way a lot of people are nowadays they’re thankful for the veterans,” Dave Pechawer an Army Veteran in attendance said. “They show their appreciation, which is a big, big difference from when we came back.”

To this group, the meaning is more than just recognition during a game. It is all about comradery.

“We understand each other,” Charles said. “We all know what everyone else went through and getting together, that’s an easy part.”

“We’re all veterans, but some come from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, but it’s just nice to get together and chat and tell war stories,” Pechawer said.

This game isn’t just marked on the calendars of the veterans attending.

“Having them come in here is just a great thing,” Dave Wilson, Escanaba Football Head Coach said. “Our Eskymo Fan Club and Esky Elk Club has been doing it pretty close to 20 years so it’s really a nice thing for them. They’ll come on the field right before kickoff and we’ll acknowledge them both us and Marquette. I think it’s just great. They’ve given their lives for our country and they sign that oath and they give that oath to defend this country with their lives.”

Even for the visiting team, it means a lot to have these special guests in attendance.

“I mean it is really cool,” Austin Ridl, senior quarterback for Marquette said. “I don’t know if they were rooting for us or Esky but at the end of the day football is just a game and that is what matters right there. That is what we do it for and we are lucky that they served for us so we can be out here playing.”

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