The Dodgers have two special events planned for veterans this holiday weekend. On Friday, Tommy Lasorda, an Army veteran, visited patients at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Westwood, California.
Lasorda was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1945 at the age of 18. He was stationed in Fort Meade, MD after completing basic training at Fort McClellan, AL. He served two years at the end of World War II. Lasorda put his baseball career on hold in order to fulfill his duty at the end of the war when draftees were given a choice to leave or re-enlist. Lasorda has also given numerous motivational addresses to serviceman at U.S. military bases around the world.
Tomorrow, 100 active duty servicemen and veterans will take part in a batting practice event held at Dodger Stadium. Don Newcombe, an Army veteran, along with Congressman Xavier Becerra will be on hand. Magic Johnson will be taking pictures with the serviceman and veterans.
There will be an opportunity to hit on the field, throw in the bullpen, take a stadium tour, and participate in a Q&A session. There will be a homerun hitting contest at the end of the event, and the first-place winner will be awarded the “Veteran of the Game” distinction on Opening Day 2013.
On a personal note, this past Halloween I met a World War II veteran who resides in my city.
He engaged in a lengthy conversation with me about his time as a pilot and his experiences overseas. He also was a graduate of the same high school I went to. I also used to live in the same building as another World War II veteran during my college years. It’s always fascinating to talk with veterans, especially those who experienced WWII. Sometimes the stories my neighbor would share with me were quite explicit, but I think that this oral history should be continued to be shared so that we will never forget the past and what these veterans sacrificed for us.
Lasorda’s Lair salutes all the servicemen and women who are actively on duty or have served in the past.