A National Honor

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Few professional sports teams are as involved with their communities as the Washington Nationals are with the U.S. Military. That commitment to our nation’s armed forces extends beyond the In-Game Military salute at each home game, also including the Me and a Friend Program, the Washington Nationals Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team and team visits to military hospitals.

On Thursday night, the USO of Metropolitan Washington (USO-Metro) recognized the club for its efforts with a very special award at its 30th Annual Awards Dinner. The event – which featured a black tie dress code for civilians and full formal dress for all military members – was held at The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City in Arlington, and featured high-ranking officials from both the military and the private sector. More than 500 guests in all packed the sold-out gala, which helped raise more than $630,000 for USO-Metro.

Mark D. Lerner accepts the Legacy of Hope Award from Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Jay R. Vargas, U.S. Marine Corps.

The Nationals were well represented at this special event, which also marked the 150th anniversary of the Medal of Honor. Screech and the Racing Presidents were present, and each place setting featured a baseball with the date of the gala as well as both the USO logo and the familiar Curly W. The Lerner family was in attendance, not only to commemorate the occasion but also to accept the Bob Hope Legacy Award, named after the legendary entertainer for all he did for America’s military.

Nationals Principal Owner and Vice Chairman Mark D. Lerner accepted the award on behalf of both the Lerner family and the entire Nationals organization. He shared the following words of gratitude with those in attendance upon receiving the honor:

Thank you everyone. On behalf of the Washington Nationals organization and the entire Lerner family, I’d like to thank the USO of Metropolitan Washington for recognizing our team with this year’s Legacy of Hope Award. 

My parents Annette and Ted Lerner grew up in the D.C. area, and my sisters Marla Tanenbaum and Debra Cohen and I were raised here. It’s impossible to live here and not be aware of the sizeable contributions made by our military members and their families. Few of us can ever comprehend how much each service-member – as well as their wives, husbands, children and parents – sacrifice in order to serve our country.

As the stewards of the national pastime in the Nation’s Capital, we believe that making a difference in the lives of the men and women who fight for our country is one of the most fulfilling things we can do, and we are always looking for new ways to pay tribute and support them and their families. 

Bob Hope’s generosity and dedication was legendary. I’m pleased that the Nationals can – in whatever small way – continue his tradition and hopefully inspire future generations to support our service men and women.

I am humbled to be among so many Medal of Honor recipients and their families here tonight – and, on behalf of my family and the Washington Nationals, I want to thank you once again for your service.

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