A first pitch with meaning

Brian Keaton made history Oct. 3 in throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at a professional baseball game. He and his brothers-in-arms have made much more important history on other fields, however.

Prior to a game between the Washington Nationals and the San Francisco Giants, Keaton delivered a first pitch unlike anything ever seen, to our knowledge. The Army veteran, wounded in a bomb explosion in Iraq, got down on his stomach and crawled out behind the pitcher’s mound.

Then he threw the baseball as he might have lobbed a hand grenade during his tour of duty.

Keaton’s pitch was a reminder of the terrible toll the war against terrorism and rogue governments has taken on our nation.

More than 6,800 Americans have died in the line of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. But at least 52,000 have been wounded in action, with many others hurt off the battlefield.

Modern medicine can save the lives of service men and women wounded badly. Many wounds that would have been fatal just a few decades ago can be treated.

But thousands of Americans have come home from war with grievous, permanent wounds – both physical and mental.

Keaton is something of a success story. He underwent 3 1/2 years of treatment for a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. He is well aware that many of his comrades continue to suffer and need all the help we as a nation can provide.

Keaton’s appearance at the baseball game is a reminder of what we owe our veterans and their families. As President Abraham Lincoln reminded Americans during the closing weeks of the Civil War, it is our duty “to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan.”


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