SEATTLE - On Memorial Day, the Seattle Mariners recognized families across the region who lost loved ones while defending the nation. To open the winning game against the Oakland Athletics, the team gave a special tribute to the Gold Star Family of Danielle Marie Crone.
Her parents, Jane and Bob Hughes, said Memorial Day isn’t the only time their family is reminded of the sacrifices they’ve made for the country.
"Unfortunately, those who have defended freedom know it in the way that somebody who hasn’t will never understand," said Bob Hughes, a U.S. Army veteran. "It’s important for all of the rest of the population to kind of put that day aside and think about it so they have a better understanding of what people go through who do defend the nation."
Crone joined the U.S. Air Force in 2003 and served for seven years before she died in 2010. During her tenure, she flew more than 130 combat flights—off-loading more than two million pounds of fuel for aircrafts in combat missions.
The Mariners and fans celebrated Crone’s life as her mother threw the ceremonial first pitch.
"You could hear [cheers] around the stadium. And I think if you heard that roar it was pretty special," said Eddie Rehfeldt, who attended the game. "It was just one of those honorable moments that it must have been special for that family."
Crone’s parents said they are humbled that the team and fans recognized her commitment to the nation. They said they also want her to be remembered for her dedication in helping others outside of her time in the military.
"She used to have bags of food and other things in her car. And then if she came across a homeless person, rather than giving cash she would actually give one of these bags with food or whatever in it. That’s something she just did on her own," said her father.
Though fans celebrated the win against the Oakland A’s, they said this Memorial Day had them feeling a sense of gratitude.
"Thank you to all the troops and the families out there. As much as the troops give, families give just as much in terms of sharing their loved ones, and in terms of that commitment they make with time away," said Craig Chambers, who attended the game.
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