By Petty Officer 2nd Class Charlotte Oliver, Defense Media ActivityMay 9, 2016
ORLANDO, Fla., May 9, 2016 -- More than 500 wounded, ill and injured athletes from 14 nations gathered for the opening ceremonies of the 2016 Invictus Games.
The Invictus Games are an international Paralympic-style, multisport event created by Great Britain's Prince Harry in 2014 after he saw the Warrior Games in the United States. He wanted to demonstrate the power of sports to inspire recovery, support service members' rehabilitation and to demonstrate that there is life beyond their disability.
This year, 113 athletes across the services are representing the United States at the Invictus Games.
As the national anthem filled the stadium, spectators rose to their feet, some with their hand over their heart, and veterans, both young and old, could be seen throughout the crowd standing at attention and saluting.
Ken Fisher, chairman of Invictus Games Orlando 2016, welcomed the athletes and spectators.
"I am thrilled you are all here," Fisher said. "These Games will celebrate the military family as never before. We will celebrate their role in recovery, and witness the role sports has played in that long and difficult rehabilitation process."
Athletes will compete in 10 sports: archery, indoor rowing, powerlifting, road cycling, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair tennis. The athletes will be cheered on by thousands of spectators and family members.
"Over the next four days, you will hear stories of courage and fortitude told by men and women who refused to use the term 'I can't," Fisher said. "You 500 seated in front of me are truly unconquerable, as are the 1,000 family and friends seated next to you."
After the Marine Corps Silent Drill Team wowed the crowd with its performance, Prince Harry took the stage.
"I cannot tell you how proud and excited I am to open the second Invictus Games here in America," Harry said. "You are role models that any parent would be proud to have their children follow. So let's put on a hell of a show in memory of all of our fallen comrades who didn't make it back. We are Invictus!"
The games will run throughout the week, and will climax with closing ceremonies May 12.