A day of celebration for veterans everywhere, Monday was made even more memorable at the Rhode Island National Guard Armory in Warwick with an appearance by New England Patriots safety Devin McCourty.
McCourty, in partnership with AT&T, came out to the armory on Veterans Day for an hour to sign autographs and pose for pictures with fans in an effort to spearhead support for the Operation Holiday Cheer 2013 care package drive.
Those who came to see McCourty were asked to bring care package donations to the event, and those donations will be sent overseas to currently deployed troops.
The line extended nearly out the door at the armory, but the Patriots standout didn’t mind the long afternoon. .
“It was great just to be a part of it,” McCourty said. “I’m grateful that I was asked to come here, to have the chance to celebrate Veterans Day. Not just send a social media tweet or something, but actually doing something to give back and meeting some soldiers and meeting families that really care about this. I hope they enjoyed it, because I definitely enjoyed it.”
AT&T is a sponsor of Operation Holiday Cheer 2013, which is led by Rhode Island Lt. Governor Elizabeth H. Roberts in conjunction with the Rhode Island National Guard and Rhode Island's Family Assistance Center. For its part, AT&T is donating international calling cards to Operation Holiday Cheer to help families stay connected during deployments.
Roberts was in attendance for the event, as was Patricia Jacobs, the president of AT&T New England. Members of the National Guard were present, too, and many uniformed military personnel showed up to get a picture and an autograph on a day honoring them.
From start to finish, McCourty was doing all he could to make it a special day for everyone who came out.
“That’s what you hope for, a lot of smiles,” McCourty said. “I actually got some gifts today that were pretty cool. I think a lot of people donated, so I’m sure all of those soldiers deployed will have fun. They’ll get some nice care packages, be able to smile and get some feel for back home.”
McCourty’s choice as the Patriots representative in Warwick wasn’t just random. His family has a military background, making the cause a little closer to his heart.
His father was in the army, as was his brother Larry White. This past week, Devin and his twin brother Jason – who plays for the Tennessee Titans – were out in Tennessee with Larry, celebrating the holiday.
“It’s great just to do something to give back,” McCourty said. “Earlier in the week I was with my older brother in Tennessee at Jason’s house. It was cool, all three of us together. It was his birthday too, so celebrating his birthday and Veterans Day was cool.”
It amounted to a fitting way for McCourty to spend his Veterans Day. It was also his last day off for the Patriots, who had given the players some time due to the team’s bye week.
On Tuesday, McCourty was due back at practice, but not before he had made his presence felt in a big way for a lot of people in Rhode Island.
“My twin brother (Jason) and I have always had a deep appreciation for the current and former members of our armed forces, as our father and brother both served in the army,” McCourty said. “What they have done throughout our history and what they continue to do today is what gives us our rights as Americans.”