Pokagon veteran recognized during Blackhawks’ win
Published 10:21 am Friday, June 19, 2015
Update: Corrected the spelling of “Foerster” and “Rodgers.”
Originally planning to spend a quiet evening at home Monday with his wife, Dowagiac’s Anthony Foerster had his plans for his birthday celebration slightly altered late last week.
His new itinerary for the night — a visit to the Windy City; more specifically, the frozen confines of the United Center, where the Chicago Blackhawks faced off with the Tampa Bay Lightning in game six of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, where a ‘Hawks victory would clinch them the coveted National Hockey League Championship.
The member of Pokagon Band of Potawatomi was one of several armed services veterans who participated in the opening ceremony of that night’s game.
When the team shut out their opposition in a 2-0 victory that night, Foerster got a front row seat to the fevered response the fans gave to their hometown heroes capturing yet another Stanley Cup Finals.
“As soon the team won, we were mobbed by fans,” Foerster said. “A lot of them kept telling us, ‘you guys were our lucky charm!’”
A veteran of the Army and Marine Corps, Foerster was recognized before the singing of the National Anthem. Wearing his Pokagon Band color guard uniform, Foerster carried the tribe’s Community Eagle Feather Staff, which represents the veterans of his people.
“I didn’t even know we would show up on TV,” Foerster said. “We found out about 10 seconds after the ceremony started, when my wife started getting calls on her phone.”
Despite the jubilation running through the air that night, just a few days earlier, Foerster was apprehensive to even make the journey, he said. After being asked if he or another veteran in the Pokagon Band would like to participate in the opening ceremony the Friday before the game, he was given less than an hour to enlist someone else for the job; as a result, he elected to represent the tribe himself, despite planning on spending his birthday at home with his spouse, Lynne, he said.
“I said I’d do it without asking my wife, so I didn’t now how well the news would go down with her,” Foerster said. “It turns out, after 25 years of marriage, this was the first time I learned she liked hockey…she was excited to go with me.”
While being honored at such a massive, nationally broadcast venue was certainly a unique experience, Foerster is no stranger to representing the Pokagon Band in public.
He and other members of the tribe’s veterans association frequently serve as color guard in various events throughout the region, from the band’s pair of pow-wows held on their grounds at Rodgers Lake in Dowagiac to other massive sporting events, such as Super Bowl XLVI, which was held in Indianapolis back in 2012.
“I look at it as a duty,” Foerster said. “No matter how I feel going in, I come away being glad for the opportunity to represent the tribe.”