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Heroes pay tribute at Tropicana
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09/11/2002 7:34 pm ET 
Heroes pay tribute at Tropicana
By Paul C. Smith /

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The lineup was loaded with heroes at Tropicana Field on Wednesday night.

United States Army General Tommy Franks addressed the fans before the game.

"I am proud of you," Franks told the crowd. "Because you represent the sprit of a great nation. You represent the spirit we need to finish the job -- and we will finish the job."

Franks is the Commander in Chief of U.S. Central Command and is responsible for U.S. military activity in 25 nations, including the ongoing war on terrorist operations in Afghanistan.

Also, police and fire personnel from around the Tampa Bay area lined up with Red Sox and Rays players on the field before the game. The national anthem was performed by Air Force Major Henry Polczer. Chris Frost from Tampa Pipes and Drums performed "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes and there was a 21-gun salute by a military contingent from nearby MacDill Air Force Base.

The pregame ceremony was just part of a very special day in St. Petersburg and throughout the country.

"It gives everyone a chance to reflect back on where they were last year and what it meant," Boston manager Grady Little said.

"We can't forget, but we have to move on," Rays manager Hal McRae said.

The Red Sox were in St. Petersburg last September 11, having just flown in from a series in New York.

Boston starter Derek Lowe said it was, "kind of eerie" that the Red Sox were here again on the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks, but that the players managed to make the day meaningful.

"We had a birthday party at the hotel today for Trot Nixon's son, Chase (who was born last September 11)," Lowe said. "It was nice because there are a lot of kids who are not going to see their dads again."

Paul C. Smith is a reporter for and is based in Tampa. He can be reached at This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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