ARLINGTON (CBS 11 NEWS) – No one really recognized the blonde, 30-year-old woman standing by the visitor’s dugout at Ranger’s Ballpark Wednesday. Her white Rangers jersey blended in with the sparse afternoon crowd. There was a visible scar on her arm, and a slight limp as she walked toward the mound for the ceremonial first pitch. As soon as her name came over the public address system though, and appeared on the scoreboard, the crowd woke up, came to their feet, and cheered for Jessica Lynch.
September 11th led to Lynch’s deployment to Iraq, where she became an unintentional heroic symbol for the war effort. She was the first successful prisoner of war rescued since the war in Vietnam, and the first woman to ever be rescued. The operation was highly publicized, and sensationalized. The rhetoric of war Lynch experienced has caused her to pause as the United States considers entering a new conflict in the Middle East.
“I just don’t want to see our men and women, young men and women, go through the same ordeal, face the same consequences and come back injured,” she said. “It’s hard. It’s hard.”
She spent the day at the ballgame Wednesday as a guest of Heritage Health Solutions. The veteran-owned company hosted her along with several wounded warriors at the game, as part of an outreach program for veterans. It’s a group Lynch is called on to speak to often. Her message she said, is “perseverance.”
“There was something in me saying you know what, you gotta persevere. You can’t give up. You gotta keep going. You gotta strive on. Put Iraq in the past, let’s finish our education, and that’s what I did. I was motivated to find something to look forward to.”
It still surprises her that people want to hear her story. Heritage CEO James Rosengren said, however, it’s her honesty about her rescue, and her recovery, that still connects with people.
She wanted to throw out the first pitch underhand, but was convinced to give it a try over the top. She laughed and threw up her hands, as the throw went wide of the plate, and up the first base line. It was just a bit outside, unlike her pitch to veterans and civilians, which has been right on target.
“Just strive forward I guess is the message. Put Iraq in the past. Let’s move on to the future. And that’s what I’ve been trying to do.”
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