The arena lights went down in the ATT Center, and the flag was unrolled above the floor for the National Anthem. As the chorus began to sing, the importance of the event sunk in for the members and staff of the Army Teen Panel, holding the flag.

The Army Teen Panel meets biannually to discuss teen issues and to brief senior Army leaders about issues they face growing up in the Army Family. This meeting brought representatives from various states and countries around the world to San Antonio. Washington, California, North Carolina, New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, Georgia, Hawaii and Texas were represented, as well as Korea and Germany.

"The teens are awesome, so smart and worldly," said Donna McGrath, Child, Youth and School Services Sports and Fitness Program Manager. "The panel meets during the day, but we try and get out in the local area to enhance the experience for these great youth leaders. This was a great opportunity to take a break and meet the San Antonio Silver Stars organization."

Anticipation was high in the wings before presenting the colors. There were smiles mixed with worried looks as 25 teens cradled the large flag through the tunnel and stepped on to the arena floor.

"It was awesome being able to represent Army youth by holding the flag," said Ashley S. Williams, a senior teen representative from Fort Bragg, N.C. "Everything we do - we're doing it for the Soldiers and their Families."

The audience at the WNBA game between the Silver Stars and the Seattle Storm seemed to appreciate the opening ceremony as well. After the singing of the National Anthem, the crowd showed their appreciation with a thunder of applause and cheers.

"The main purpose of our gathering in San Antonio was to reach out to military teens by creating a service announcement promoting health and fitness," said Michelle Christel, a senior teen representative from Fort Monmouth, N.J. "The Army Teen Panel has been the most amazing experience, and I am honored to be a part."

"The panel has been here all week, and will depart San Antonio on Saturday," said McGrath. "This is a fun event which the teens will remember for a long time."

The teen panel joined the rest of the basketball fans in the stands and enjoyed a great contest. In the end, the Silver Stars prevailed, but the final score will be remembered far less than the impact of the red, white and blue.

Page last updated Fri July 15th, 2011 at 00:00