KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Before their Monday night showdown with the Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs players took the field in special warmups. Each player's sweatshirt had a patch representing a different local military unit.
The game's ceremonial first pass was thrown out by Keara Torkleson, an Olathe native who was awarded a Purple Heart in 2009 after being shot at Fort Hood, Texas. Now she’s a volunteer with Warriors Ascent, which helped a local veteran get a specialized wheelchair on the field during the game.
NFL fields have been a source of controversy for many veterans this season as players such as Marcus Peters have taken a knee during the national anthem of several games. No Chiefs players, however were spotted kneeling during the military appreciation night.
“I respect the opinions of Marcus Peters on the field and I respect everything the military does for our country," Lance Warner said wearing a Peters #22 Salute to Service jersey in camouflage.
"Some people disagree and want to protest. That’s their first amendment right. The only way to show the other side of the coin is to show that somebody who is the same age as some of the players on the field gave their life and died, and they had a wife and children," Fred Galvin with Heroes United said.
Sergeant First Class Gary Collins was killed in an attack on his Bradley in Fallujah in 2003.
“The struggles never end, we are dealing with it on an everyday basis," his widow Kassie said. His two daughters are now studying at Missouri Western University.
“He’s always said that he wants us to finish school he wanted us to go to college and have an education, so we’re in school and we are finishing it for him," Taylor Collins, a Senior said.
Now both will finish college tuition free as recipients of Gold Star Memorial Scholarships.
“I’m blessed that I don’t have to stress about my college, and how I’m going to get money for it," Landry Collins, a Sophomore said.