Sammies finalists honored at Washington Nationals game
Twelve of the 29 finalists for a 2021 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals® award were recognized on-field at Nationals Park in front of more than 33,000 fans on Friday, July 30. The finalists gathered in the center field plaza shortly before the game started and met Nationals Racing President Thomas Jefferson before being escorted through the ballpark’s underbelly and on to the warning track in center field.
As the finalists appeared on the scoreboard’s enormous screen, Nationals in-game host Mike Ploger shared their achievements with the crowd, including repatriating Americans stranded abroad during the pandemic, protecting international human rights, creating a new program to support young people aging out of foster programs and more.
Finalists in attendance included:
- Ian Brownlee, State Department.
- Eric Choy, Customs and Border Protection.
- Michelle Daniels, Department of Housing and Urban Development.
- Mark Eakin, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
- Charles D. Eldridge, Department of Housing and Urban Development.
- Ana Hinojosa, Customs and Border Protection.
- Callie I. Higgins, National Institute of Standards and Technology.
- Adam Jacoff, National Institute of Standards and Technology.
- Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, National Institutes of Health.
- Zack Schwartz, Census Bureau.
- Edward Sisco, National Institute of Standards and Technology.
- Lori Vislocky, Department of Homeland Security.
At the conclusion of the singing of the national anthem, the finalists walked back through the ballpark concourse area as the Cubs and the Nationals took to the field. They grabbed food, beverages and their Victor Robles bobbleheads, and then joined their families and Partnership staff in the stands.
Reflecting on the evening, Charles D. Eldridge said his favorite moment was listening to the National Anthem on the field and seeing thousands of people in the stands hear about the great work being done within the federal government.
Callie I. Higgins described the evening as “surreal,” as she never thought she’d have the opportunity step on to any major league baseball field, let alone be featured at a live game.
“We can often get caught up in the minutiae of our day-to-day work, so having this event gave us the opportunity to step back and have fun,” said Lori Vislocky. “We can take in not only the scope of what we had accomplished, but also the achievements of our fellow finalists.”
Added Ana Hinojosa, “After a year of pandemic, it was wonderful to be out among other people celebrating one of our best American pastimes.”
It was a winning night for the Sammies finalists and a win for the Nationals, who defeated the Cubs 4-3 backed by home runs by Josh Bell and Luis García. It was a fitting end to a fun and rewarding evening for some of our nation’s most accomplished public servants.
To learn more about the Sammies, visit www.servicetoamericamedals.org.