Salute to Service
The National Football League continues its long history of honoring veterans and active duty members of the military with its annual Salute to Service campaign. In November the National Football League is teaming up with the Pat Tillman Foundation, Wounded Warrior Project and USO to recognize active duty servicemembers, veterans and all military families through a number of awareness initiatives scheduled in conjunction with Veterans Day celebrations nationwide. These activities will highlight the bravery and dedication of these heroic Americans and bring attention to the needs of returning servicemembers and their families, including assistance to achieve educational goals.
Since the Pat Tillman Foundation’s inception in 2004, the NFL, its teams, management, current and retired players and fans nationwide have recognized Pat’s heroic sacrifice for his country in a variety of ways that celebrate his memory including:
- On September 19, 2004 the NFL honored Pat by displaying a memorial #40 decal on each player’s helmet, and members of the Arizona Cardinals continued the tribute through the end of the season.
- The NFL teamed up with the USO in 2005, donating $250,000 to honor Pat’s service by constructing the Pat Tillman Memorial USO Center at Bagram Air Base.
- In a special ceremony held on Veterans Day in 2006, the Arizona Cardinals named the plaza surrounding University of Phoenix Stadium Pat Tillman Freedom Plaza and unveiled the Pat Tillman Memorial sculpture.
- The Arizona Cardinals inducted Pat into the Ring of Honor and retired his #40 jersey on November 12, 2006.
- A portion of the proceeds from the sale of NFL Arizona Cardinals #40 Tillman jerseys directly supports the Tillman Military Scholars program.
- Annually, Pat’s former coaches and teammates participate at Pat’s Run, the Foundation’s signature fundraising event held each April at ASU’s Sun Devil Stadium.
- NFL leadership and the Arizona Cardinals Team President Michael Bidwill serve on the Foundation’s Board of Directors.
- In 2012, the NFL will donate $100 to each of its three charity partners for every point scored in designated “Salute to Service” games league wide.
In June 2010, the NFL and Pat Tillman Foundation established the NFL-Tillman Military Scholar award to annually honor an individual who exemplifies Pat’s enduring legacy of service. The scholarship is part of the Tillman Military Scholars program available to veterans, active servicemembers and military spouses from all branches of the U.S. military who wish to start, finish or further their education.
The NFL has selected Marine Sergeant Emily Thompson Schelberg of Towson, MD as its 2012 NFL-Tillman Military Scholar. Previous winners are Army Staff Sgt. Patrick Nelson (2010) of Dawson, MN and Petty Officer Third Class D’Onior Felton (2011) of Clarksdale, MS.