A Solider’s Poem of Thanks

Lee and Patti Kroeger

Recently, Sun Lakes resident Lee Kroeger was feted by Arizona Coyotes Foundation as the representative of all World War II veterans during a ceremony honoring the military at a game between the Coyotes and the Washington Capitals. Lee, who is 91, fought with the 95th Infantry Division in Patton’s 3rd Army at the Battle of the Bulge at Bastogne, Belgium.

During the ceremony, he stood with the Navy soloist on the ice for the National Anthem, along with 50 other military men and women who held the huge American Flag that covered the rink.

He and Patti were later televised on the JumboTron in their seats provided by Sanderson Ford’s “Seats for Soldiers” program while the announcer recounted his life. Of course, the Coyotes Foundation also provided a car and driver to ferry them to and from the event. Lee was so moved by the genuine gestures of love, respect and appreciation shown by the Coyotes and their fans across the arena, that he penned the following poem:

Dear Ali and Dave,

Thank you, Ali of the “Arizona Coyotes Foundation,” for honoring me, part of the “greatest generation.”

And Dave, who arranged the Coyotes game presentation and composed all the words for my special occasion.

The Coyotes Foundation, which has as their primary deed to take care of children and soldiers in need.

Thank you for the courtesy which was shown to my wife who has loved me and supported me all of my life.

You made me really feel as a “King for a day,” your graciousness was demonstrated in every way.

I felt a love and a concern of a special kind, something that very many people don’t always find.

Emma Kazian proved to be an excellent guide. She made sure that she was always right by my side.

She was a very sweet girl who took me by the hand whenever it was difficult for me to stand.

As I stood on the carpet next to the American flag, the symbol of honor and freedom about which we brag.

And the singing of the anthem brought tears to my eyes, remembering Pat Tillman and all who had lost their lives.

I was totally overwhelmed by the tremendous ovation for a 91-year-old soldier who had served his nation.

It is hard to find words to describe how I felt that night, the rippling flag, the applause, everything was just right.

I was amazed by all the people who thanked me that I served, timely kind words that all of the military deserved.

A lady asked, “May I have a picture taken with you?” “An honor,” she said, as her dad had served in WW2.

And finally, the thing that made the whole night complete, was that the Washington “Caps” were put down in defeat.

Our Coyote kids made that elite group look and seem that they, and not the Capitals, were the greatest team.

Our driver was cautious as he drove without a scare and got us to the arena and home, safely there.

Sanderson Ford’s “Seats for Soldiers” program is really great for providing the military an evening which is first rate.

So thank you for remembering our military, each and every one, and thank you for everything the “Foundation” and both of you have done.

Lee and Patti are active members of Risen Savior Lutheran Church.