A chance to say thank you to true heroes


Honoring military heroes, saying thank you to them, and showing their appreciation for them is something the Steelers do on a regular basis.

But on Sunday when the team hosts the Oakland Raiders at Heinz Field, they will have the opportunity to do so in a much more public way.

The Steelers will take part in the NFL's Salute to Service, honoring the men and women of the Armed Forces as a part of Veterans Day observance.

"I am very appreciative of our military and everything they have done," said running back DeAngelo Williams. "Everything that we do, or are able to do, revolves around the guys who are protecting the front lines. I have the utmost respect for them. Every guy who has ever donned the camouflage and served in the military are my heroes."

The salute will be highlighted by honoring veterans from different wars, including World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Desert Shield, and the War on Terror, during a pregame ceremony as a way of saying thank you to those who have given so much.

"I have family in the military so I completely have to humble myself and take my hat off to those people," said nose tackle Steve McLendon. "They are doing an outstanding job. They continue to go in and fight, they have families and continue to go and fight for our freedom. I am appreciative of them. I take my hat off to them. I want to tell them keep yourself safe and say thank you."

Take a look at some photos that highlight those who have served our country.

When the Steelers stand alongside the veterans during the National Anthem, there will be another one joining them. One of their own. Steelers tackle Alejandro Villanueva is a former Army Ranger who served three tours of duty in Afghanistan and those who play with him have the utmost respect for what he has done.

"It's always meant a lot to us that we can call one of our own, one of our brothers, a veteran," said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. "He is a guy who has served and given us the opportunity to play this sport. We appreciate so much what the military has done and means to all of us. He is one of our brothers and it's awesome."

And while Villanueva quietly deflects the attention, those around him can't help but be humbled by what he, and all who have served in the Armed Forces, have done.

"It's just provides real perspective about who the real heroes are," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "We get patted on the back for the things that we do in terms of entertaining fans week in and week out, but to have Al with us is a continual reminder that the people who serve our country and provide a blanket protection for us on a day-to-day basis are the real American heroes."

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