Honor Bell, made in Cincinnati, rung for first time

On Armed Forces Day, the Cincinnati Reds held its first Military Appreciation Day of the season. (Brad Underwood/WKRC)

CINCINNATI (Brad Underwood) - On Armed Forces Day, the Cincinnati Reds held its first Military Appreciation Day of the season.

Before the game, all around Great American Ball Park, veterans were honored and celebrated.

On the field, before the ceremonial first pitch, 22 military veterans from the Wounded Warriors Organization received a Hometown Hero certificate and Reds Challenge Coin from Reds COO Phil Castellini and Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley.

"This is amazing. I actually work here for the Reds part-time. It's a lot different being down here and it has been an amazing experience," said Army Veteran Mike Kirchgessner.

Marines Scott Bunker and Jason Ritchie served in Iraq together in the early 2000's and took part in the ceremonial first pitch.

Bunker calls it an honor.

"I love Reds baseball, I grew up in Dayton, Ohio so I've been coming down since I was a little kid," said Bunker. "To be out there on the mound was quite an experience."

During the pregame activities the audience was able to witness the ceremonial ringing of the very first Honor Bell.

The Honor Bell was made in Cincinnati by the Verdin Bell Company and is the product of artifacts from 12 deceased veterans.

Those items include Medals of Honor, Purple Heart Medala, dog tags and wings.

All of it helped make the 1,300 pounds of molten bronze used to pour into the Honor Bell Foundation mold.

"These men and women that are part of this bell gave their lives to this country. To have this bell made in the USA and in Cincinnati is just phenomenal," said Patriot Guard Rider member Forest Rayburn.

After being rung at Great American Ball Park, the Honor Bell hit the road with the Patriot Guard Riders.

The Honor Bell will make stops at four national cemeteries before arriving at its final destination at a national cemetery in Denver, Colorado.

The goal of the Honor Bell Foundation is to make 131 more Honor Bells for all the national cemeteries in the United States.

The Joint Forces Honor Guard presented the colors and the National Anthem was sung by Fort Knox soldier SGT 1st Class Lilnell Storm.

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