In recent weeks, we've welcomed back dozens of men and women who have spent months deployed to Iraq and southwest Asia. But on Oct. 27, Western Kentucky University decided to hold their own welcome back celebration with a stadium full of Hilltoppers helping them out.
It's a Saturday night, and as always, Houchens Industries LT Smith Stadium is a sea of red. But this time, you can find a lot of white and blue as well.
Upon entering the stadium, fans are greeted by a Topperette with an American flag. They have 10,000 in their supply, and they're giving them out for one simple reason.
"To make sure all our men and women overseas are recognized for what they do," Topperette Angelena Edwards said.
And when halftime hits, the soldiers are even taking the field.
"We have about 30 students and alumni serving in Iraq and most of those soldiers have returned home in the past couple of months," explained Gary Ransdell, Western Kentucky University president.
"Our troops are serving every day to make sure our freedoms endure in this nation and that's something we take very seriously as a university and community," he added.
And as for the troops, this is a heartfelt gesture that's deeply appreciated.
"I'd like to thank America for showing their support behind the soldiers, we may not understand what's going on, but we put on our suit of armor, willingly to defend our country, " Sgt. First Class Vincent Louis said.
"It just brings the community together. It shows the community still respects us. It shows that they're behind us and backing us 100-percent," Specialist Chris Westray added.
The soldiers also participated in a Topper Walk Parade, where they walked alongside the band, football team, cheerleaders and Topperettes.