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Bears, players honor military as part of Salute to Service Week


When three CH-47 Chinook helicopters flew over Soldier on Sunday as part of the Bears' Salute to Service game, it was a reminder of the many Americans who wear our country's uniform and work to protect and serve the United States each day.

For several players on the Bears, the events surrounding the weekend were an extra special reminder of loved ones who have sacrificed to serve in the military.

Linebacker Kylie Fitts' older brother Anthony is serving in the Air Force now. He's been overseas in Qatar and is stationed now in Shreveport, La.

Fitts — whose grandfather also served in the military as a member of the army — says he's learned the true meaning of sacrifice from watching his brother serve and hearing stories from his grandfather.

"It's great to honor people who have served and who have sacrificed their lives every single day," Fitts said.

Fitts was fortunate to get to see his brother when Anthony came in for the Bears-Patriots game and says Anthony has always been a big cheerleader of his.  

"He's always been a big fan of mine, always supported me," Fitts said. "So he watches every single game, tries to come to as many games as he can."

Running back Ryan Nall, a member of the Bears practice squad, also has a special connection to those who have served.

Nall's father, Fred, served in the marines and many other members of his family served at one point.

Nall says his father didn't talk about his time serving often, saying, "war is something that takes a toll on everybody differently," but says from observing his father he's learned what it means to persevere.

"I think that has shown me that and given me confidence in myself to be able to know what whatever bad is going to happen, or if things aren't going my way, to stay positive and to make sure that I can do what I can do to control the situation," Nall said. "I can't do things that are out of my control, so just trying to preserve through the ups and downs and staying strong."

Offensive lineman James Daniels, too, has a special appreciation for those who have taken the oath to serve.

Daniels' maternal grandfather served in the U.S. Army and still does some government work.

Daniels remembers thinking his grandfather was strict growing up, but says it helped to teach him discipline and honoring his word and commitments.

That the NFL and the Bears choose to honor these heroes is meaningful to Daniels.

"Those are the people that give us that things that we can do everyday," Daniels said. "So it's really nice that the NFL is doing something to give back to the people that help protect this country."