Vanderbilt football team to honor veterans with special jerseys - WSMV News 4

Vanderbilt football team to honor veterans with special jerseys

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

The Vanderbilt University football team will swap their usual jerseys for names that many won't recognize, except for the families of service members.

The Commodores will wear the names of fallen veterans to honor them for Veterans Day.

Kicker Tommy Openshaw and a teammate wanted to do something to recognize service members. They threw out ideas and came up with the names on the jerseys. Medals of Honor, a volunteer organization that honors fallen veterans, helped them with the concept.

The names on the jerseys all came from families who submitted them through Medals of Honor. The men and women died in training accidents, in combat and other ways while serving their country.

There's a story behind each name, and every player knows what their veteran's story is. Openshaw said he comes from a family filled with service members, so honoring the military is personal for him.

"I am Lance Corporal Benjamin Gearhart. He was in the Marine Corps, died in 1997 in a training accident in Penalton," said Openshaw about the jersey he will wear.

"At the end of the day we're just playing a game but I think tomorrow we're really playing for something greater than ourselves. And hopefully, that kind of inspires the guys, and it's something we can take with us for the rest of our lives,” Openshaw added.

Openshaw said the gesture is just a small token of their appreciation for the nation's service members, those who lived and died.

He said soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell will be at the game against Kentucky Saturday for Veterans Day. He said he hopes to meet a few of the family members of the fallen veterans whose names they will wear.

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