Almost every day a yellow Ford Crown Victoria rolls down the streets of Milbank with George Smith behind the wheel. George, or Smitty as his friends call him, is 87, and has lived in Milbank his entire life.
But last Saturday, Smitty was nowhere to be seen. Unless you turned on the TV to the Minnesota Twins game!
Smitty was smack-dab in the middle of Target Field. He was surrounded by some of his five children, 17 grandchildren, and 21 great grandchildren. His shirt read, “SMITH Korea 1952-1953 US Army VFW POST 3486, Milbank SD.” Just before the national anthem, and after a round of applause, Smitty hoisted the stars and stripes high.
Smitty was selected for the Twins Armed Forces Flag-Raising program after being nominated by his grandson Joshua Seezs, who works at the VA Hospital in St. Cloud. When he got the call, Smitty’s family filled out the forms to highlight his medals and service, and 75 friends and supporters rallied to get tickets. Kathy Dragt, Smitty’s daughter, lined up buses to get everyone to the game.
The Armed Forces Flag- Raising program was created in 2010 to celebrate the Twins’ inaugural season at Target Field. It now has become a tradition for a Minnesota Twins game-day experience. The program pays tribute to a veteran or active-duty serviceman or woman from Twins Territory just before the singing of The Star Spangled Banner prior to every home game.
Although, his friends call him Smitty, they don’t call him retired. Smitty worked at Valley Queen Cheese for 27 years, and he still delivers newspapers and raises money for It Only Takes a Spark. He proudly served his country, and continues to serve his family and his community. Retirement for Smitty just means a whole new ballgame.