Twenty U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers reaffirmed their oaths at Soldier Field on Nov. 9, 2023, before the Chicago Bears’ annual Salute to Service game against the Carolina Panthers.
Gen. Andrew Poppas, commanding general, U.S. Army Forces Command, presided over the reenlistment ceremony.
“Having Gen. Poppas reaffirm the oath is awesome, and I am honored to be here,” said Spc. Colton Harrison, a human resource specialist with the 4th Battalion, 100th Regiment, 102nd Training Division.
“It is a privilege and an honor to do it here,” said Sgt. Cirenia Garica, a human resource specialist with the U.S. Army Reserve European Command Detachment 2. “I love my country, and that is what I am here for — to continue my service, to do my part.”
Poppas individually thanked each Soldier for their dedication and confirmed their commitments before he administered the oath.
“I see that motivation in their eyes, and it motivates me,” Poppas said. “And to do it in this environment — this is Soldier Field. This in itself is an icon to the commitment we make as Soldiers.”
The service members formed up in the end zone to participate in the ceremony and after participated in the national anthem, rendering a salute to the U.S. flag held by veterans and first responders. The Coast Guard, Air Force, Marines and Navy also rendered a salute.
Before the start of the game, there was a parachute demonstration from the U.S. Army Parachute Team, commonly known as the Golden Knights.
“It was an incredible experience,” said Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Stahler, a member of the Golden Knights team. “The crowd was lively, the view was incredible, the lights of the city were breathtaking. Such an honor to be here to represent the U.S. Army in front of the American people. Couldn’t have been better.”
Members of the U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own” Downrange was the entertainment for the halftime show. One iconic song performed was “Living in America” by James Brown.
“It is a blessing to perform,” said Sgt.1st Class Erik Tue, a member of Downrange. “I never thought I would be here in this position in my life.”
“It was great to pump up the crowd and have future Soldiers watch us,” Tue said of the experience at Soldier Field. “This is letting them know they can do what I do.”
Poppas was the Boeing Military honoree during the third quarter.
“Boeing and the Chicago Bears want to recognize Gen. Andrew Poppas for his years of service and sacrifice to our nation,” the announcer said.
“It is not about me as an individual,” Poppas said of the honor, “and any individual accolades are subservient to that of the organization. What they are really recognizing here is what we represent in uniform, a commitment to the nation.”
Other highlights of the game included: Poppas was honorary captain for the Bears for the ceremonial coin toss; a game victory for the Bears; and the Chicago 3rd Recruiting Brigade meet-and-greet with football fans during the game.
“It is nice to know I am part of something bigger, bigger than myself,” said Sgt. Leon Hernandez, a recruiter with the 3rd Recruiting Brigade, “and being able to interact with the people is awesome.”
“Just hearing people saying thank you for your service is great and welcoming,” said Staff Sgt. Rasean Cook, a recruiter with the Chicago 3rd Recruiting Brigade. “It feels really good and appreciated.”
The NFL describes Salute to Service as a “collective effort to honor, empower and connect with our nation’s service members, veterans and their families.”