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Bills have hearty respect for Veterans

The Bills and Lions will respectfully concede center stage at Ralph Wilson Stadium for a few moments prior to Sunday's 1 p.m. kickoff as Buffalo hosts its annual military appreciation ceremony in conjunction with Thursday's holiday.

One hundred military veterans and active soldiers will be recognized along with their families before the game, and videos with messages and pictures honoring troops will be played throughout the game.

While it may seem like just another day on the calendar to many, Veterans Day holds a special meaning for some members of the Bills' organization.

Owner Ralph Wilson Jr. – a Navy vet who served in World War II, coach Chan Gailey, cornerback Drayton Florence and linebacker Paul Posluszny have been personally influenced by the military.

"I think that anybody that's a true American, it means something to you," said Gailey, whose father served as a marine in the Philippines in World War II. "What our troops and what our leaders do for us is amazing ... we have no clue. I'm still amazed how they keep our country safe, and we're appreciative."

Florence's sister, Lakisha, recently completed an Army tour of duty in Iraq. Florence said he and his sister learned valuable lessons from their father, Drayton Sr., who served 22 years in the Army.

"Hard work and discipline were the main things that he got from the military that he passed on to us," Florence said. "Growing up, I moved around a lot. As a youngster, I got a lot of childhood experience, as far as different cities (and) different people, which helped me out later in life."

The eighth-year cornerback gives back to our troops through his foundation's work with the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to honor and empower wounded American soldiers.

Florence's most recent military-related project is donating 10 tickets per home game, which linebacker Andra Davis matches, to Wounded Warriors.

Florence said it's something he feels obligated to do.

"We appreciate the things the soldiers do for us, and a lot of those guys go unnoticed," he said. "For me to be able to help the Wounded Warriors out – (troops) who went to war, lost limbs, can't function like they did before they left – it's just a good feeling."

Posluszny joined former NFL defenders Greg Biekert and Mike Minter on a 10-day tour of Iraq in 2008, highlighted by watching the Giants upset the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII with soldiers.

The fourth-year linebacker said it was a humbling experience.

"It makes you realize how lucky you are to be playing a game for a living, compared to some other guys who have made that sacrifice to their country and their families," Posluszny said. "You see young kids over there (who are) in a war zone, they're away from home – but they're so anxious to do a great job, do what they set out to do and get home safely."

The two-time All-American at Penn State said he has the utmost appreciation for our troops.

"I think it's the most respectable and honorable job there is," he said. "(The trip) made me respect them even more because they have the toughest job in the world, in the most dangerous situation in the world."

Aside from Sunday's pre-game festivities, the Bills have also recognized Veterans Day by donating supplies and prizes to a new flag-football league for troops in Basrah, Iraq.

Posluszny added any opportunity to honor the troops is exciting because of his admiration for them, but you won't hear him comparing football to combat as some often do.

"I think it's ridiculous, especially any time you hear guys talk about 'playing on Sundays is going to war, I'm a soldier,'" Posluszny said. "It's really, really disrespectful, in my opinion, for guys to do that.

"We play a game. Those guys over there – that's the real deal."

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