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The Story Behind The Wildcats’ Pre-Game Flag Tribute On September 11th (Posted September, 15th)

As the Central Clarion Wildcats ran onto the Clarion-Limestone Stadium field, for the first game in program history on Friday, September 11th, they were led by three members of the team who served as standard bearers for three groups of heroes, as a fitting tribute for Patriot Day. Patriot Day occurs on September 11th of each year in memory of the memory of those killed in the terrorist attacks on that date in 2001.

 Hunter Craddock displayed the Stars and Stripes; Luca Cherico, the Thin Red Line flag (representing Firefighters/EMS/First Responders) and Christian Simko, the Thin Blue Line flag (representing law enforcement officers).

Luca spearheaded the effort. He was gracious enough to share with Clarion Sports Zone how the Wildcats’ fitting Patriot Day tribute came together:  

The idea was birthed the evening before, but the inspiration had already been burned deep inside. “This all came about when Hunter Craddock and I were talking, Thursday night at practice, about how we should honor our nation’s heroes the night of the football game, which was also on 9/11. We both believe that we should never let our police officers or firefighters or EMTs go unnoticed, especially on a day of remembrance.” 

But who should carry which flag and why? “Hunter and I discussed that he would carry out the American Flag as he normally does, because in my view there is nobody in this world who is more patriotic than him. 

“I recently became a volunteer Junior Firefighter where I am learning and training to support my local community, so I carried out the Thin Red Flag in memory of the Firefighters that sacrificed their lives on 9/11. We asked Christian Simko to carry out the Thin Blue Flag as he comes from a police family.”

There was a bit of a problem to overcome, so Luca turned to several of his “brothers.” Luca mentioned, “After realizing that I didn’t have a thin red flag, I asked fellow firefighters, Dan Porzio, Justin Galati and Vinnie Dongilli if I could use theirs for the night.  They said they would be honored to let me fly it high Friday night.”

There was a simple way to make the staves, which also supported a local business, “I purchased two pieces of PVC conduit at Clarion Electric and got them ready to go for the game.”

This local tribute, like others throughout this great land, help to ensure that, “We Will Never Forget.” Luca closed by saying, “All of this was done in the matter of 24 hours, because we should always honor our country’s heroes of 9/11 on Patriot Day.  I am very proud and thankful to all the citizens who came together on 9/11 and helped each other out that day. 

“I wasn’t even alive on that day but I do know on that one particular day that all American’s came together and they all helped each other out.” 

What a fine tribute from Luca, Hunter and Christian and their Wildcats teammates. We should all be very proud of these young men and their patriotism and very thankful for the sacrifice of so many on September, 11th, 2001.