SIKESTON - Friday, between Sikeston High School's varsity and junior varsity basketball games with Kelly High School, fans will be asked to put down their school colors and pick up the nation's.
"Our colors are red, white and blue," said Tom Austin of the American Legion.
In what has become a Sikeston tradition, United States military veterans will be honored during a special ceremony between games at the field house. "This will be our fourth go-around," Austin said. "We invite all the veterans to be there."
Austin said it is important to honor veterans more often than Memorial Day and Veterans Day. "It's more than worthwhile," Austin said. "This is a special deal designed for and wholly for the veterans - male and female."
Jim Baker, quartermaster at the Veterans of Foreign Wars hall, said the ceremony will be even more special this year with the patriotism that has been running high since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. "It's grown this country much, much closer together," Baker said.
Austin said the ceremony is not just for Sikeston veterans, but for every veteran in attendance.
"Toward the end of the JV game we ask all veterans to come down to the floor," Austin said. "Anybody that's in the gym - all veterans, regardless of the community."
The ceremony will begin shortly after the junior varsity game ends.
In past years the ceremony has typically included a presentation of colors by the Sikeston Department of Public Safety and the singing of the national anthem.
"There will be patriotic music performed," said Sally Lape, Sikeston Community Teachers Association public relations co-chair. "Neal Boyd will be singing 'God Bless America.'"
Each year, at least two veterans are presented plaques which are placed on the Field House's Wall of Honor.
"The VFW and American Legion will each honor one veteran this year," said Lape.
The American Legion's selection is kept a closely guarded secret. "It's a total surprise to everyone but the committee," Austin said. "They have to come and find out."
This year will have an additional presentation: "Three World War II veterans who will receive honorary diplomas," Lape said.
Floyd Crowley, James Tanner and George Crawford will be presented with their diplomas during the ceremony, according to Tom Williams, Sikeston High School principal. A fourth recipient, Ray Darter, is unable to attend but will also receive a diploma.