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Honoring the Fallen and Touching Hearts as a Salute to Service

Posted Nov 10, 2016

As a special tribute to the fallen service men and women of the United States, the Rams partnered with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) to host the “Salute to Service” military appreciation game.

As a special tribute to the fallen service men and women of the United States, the Rams partnered with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) to host the “Salute to Service” military appreciation game this past Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.

For the tribute, Rams players had the opportunity to meet 63 families of service men and women who died while serving in the armed forces or from injuries sustained while serving in the post 9/11 era. These families were invited to attend the pre-game practice the day before to meet the players who wore their fallen family member’s initials on their helmets during Sunday’s game. At the game, the fallen service men and women were honored during the lighting of the torch and their families were special guests of the Rams.

Prior to the game, TAPS provided players with bios and photographs of the fallen service men and women, many of them from the Los Angeles region and surrounding areas. During the practice, the players had the opportunity to get to know their families and hear their stories, which helped the players to feel connected to the fallen military members, many of whom were Rams fans and shared gameday memories with their loved ones.

“The most wonderful way to honor our fallen military heroes is to recognize their families and the living legacy they left behind,” explained Diana Hosford, a Director at TAPS, “When the players say they are playing for something special or something bigger and have their initials on their helmets, it means so much to the families to have their loved one honored and remembered.”

Since 1994, TAPS has cared for the families of fallen service men and women by hosting National Military Survivor Seminars, emotional support programs, counseling resources and the peer support network. Additionally, TAPS has expanded to include a sports program, Teams4TAPS, to create meaningful opportunities for the teams who the fallen service men and women used to support with their loved ones.

The Rams were honored to be part of paying tribute to the fallen military members during the game. “It’s a powerful experience to be able to honor our fallen military members and to go out onto the field and play for something bigger. I was honored to wear their initials on my helmet on Sunday and to pay tribute to their sacrifice,” said Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

Every year, the NFL and the NFL Players Association come together in honor of Veterans Day to celebrate and recognize members of the military as part of the league’s Salute to Service. The league’s military appreciation efforts, which extend throughout the year, culminate in November with NFL Salute to Service games and other special events honoring veterans, active-duty service members and their families