FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The day is meant as a reminder of the military service men and women who have protected the freedoms of every American vigilantly since our nation declared its independence on July 4, 1776. We are meant to reflect on the liberties that are often taken for granted and lost in the everyday shuffle of life, the liberties that would not be possible without the sacrifice of those men and women in uniform. It is meant as a day of remembrance for those who gave their lives trying to defend sovereignty against those who mean to oppress it.
On this Veterans Day, Patriots tackle Nate Solder and his teammates were granted the day off from position drills on the practice field and game tape in the film room before their preparation for the Carolina Panthers. The off day is usually a time to rest the body and mind, but Solder chose to take his break from protecting the quarterback to visit those who made a living protecting our freedoms with a visit to the Brockton VA Hospital as part of the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation's Celebrate Volunteerism initiative.
"Well first of all it was Veteran's Day and we always try to show our respect to the veterans because they have done so much for us," said Solder. "[The Brockton VA Hospital] is doing great things for the vets."
The veterans who reside at the hospital beamed at the sight of Solder, and they were enthusiastic in their conversations with him. The event began with a brief Q & A segment, with Solder fielding questions from those patients well enough to congregate in a large sitting room. As Solder interacted with the guests, they shared stories with him from their time in the service and their lives thereafter. It was a special moment not only for the veterans, but also for Solder, especially considering his family background.
"My Dad was in the Navy, and his brothers were in the Navy also. A couple of them were in the Army, and then my grandfather retired in the Navy," reminisced Solder. "It was awesome how a lot of them were happy to see me and I think I made an impression on them. I think that was great.
"They were outstanding people. They served bravely and I couldn't even tell you all the things they have done. I wish I could share their stories with you, but I was there so briefly that it was great to just meet them all."
For Solder, honoring veterans who have protected our country was a cool reminder of how their bravery has allowed our freedoms to remain constant. It was a personal way for him to show the veterans that their service is appreciated and that they are not forgotten. After Solder went around to the veterans who could not leave their rooms to visit with him, signing autographs and taking pictures, he exited the hospital knowing that the visit brightened the days of the veterans inside. For a couple hours at least, Solder induced smiles from those who spent years of their lives ensuring that Americans have something to smile about.
Tuesday's visit to the Brockton VA Hospital was part of the Patriots Charitable Foundation's ongoing Celebrate Volunteerism initiative, which recognizes deserving volunteers and encourages Patriots fans to give back in their communities. For more information about Celebrate Volunteerism and for a complete list of future initiatives, go to www.patriots.com/community.