Those in routine attendance of Nashville Predators games at Bridgestone Arena have come to celebrate a regular in-game tradition: the Ford Military Salute.
At the last television timeout of the second period of every contest, the Preds highlight a veteran or an active member of the military in attendance. For the honor, pictures of the serviceman or woman are shown on the megatron and a short biography of their service history is read for the more than 17,000 fans in attendance. The recognition concludes with the active member or veteran proudly displayed on the screen high above the ice alongside their family and friends in attendance.
It's a celebrated tradition during Preds games, with each instance being as unique as the last.
When the Preds took on the Calgary Flames this past Tuesday, fans at the game helped recognize not one, but two incredible veterans during the salute.
Bob and Tom Withrow are twin brothers who served in the United States Navy in the 1960s. Both Tom and Bob were stationed in Meridian, Mississippi, working on the crash crew and helping with the search of the famous civil rights activists, the Freedom Riders.
Tom was later a Flight Deck Petty Officer for an attack squadron on the USS Hancock off the coast of Vietnam. His brother, Bob, was later stationed in Newfoundland and achieved the rank of Petty Officer Third Class.
Serving in a time when they weren't welcomed home with open arms, Tuesday's recognition was a small act to cover years of lost appreciation.
"Having all those people standing for you, that's really something," Bob said of the salute.
The two brothers agreed that the Ford Military Salute is an extraordinary honor, and means a lot to servicemen and women as well as the Nashville community itself.
"I think it's a plus anytime you do that," Tom said of the evening. "You're reaching out to the community when you do those things."
"It's something all military people would enjoy," Bob said, echoing the feelings of his brother.
While the two brave men were recognized during the game, special guests were also in attendance.
Chad Withrow, son of military veteran Tom, watched the salute with great reverence.
"It was great to see my dad and uncle honored because they're both typically so humble," Chad said. "They don't want to be acknowledged. But to see them swell up with pride at that moment - it was the ultimate [blessing] for me. Very, very cool."
Chad has worked the last seven years with 104.5 The Zone, a Nashville-based sports radio station and a proud partner of the Predators.
"The Predators do an amazing job," Chad said. "It's incredible - every event that I go to - how involved they are with their fans and with the local community. It's the best in this town - and I've been to sporting events all over the country - it's second to none."
The Predators are greatly honored to commemorate the service of veterans like Bob and Tom Withrow. To celebrate a serviceman or woman in your life during an in-game Salute to Service, or to learn more about the Predators' community involvement, click here.