She felt pride and pure emotion.
When Angie Keasler looked into the stands in the Crothersville High School gymnasium the night of Nov. 26, she saw Brenda Farmer standing and holding a framed picture of her late husband, James.
Around the gym, family members, fans, players and coaches stood as they listened to David Schill announce James as the Hometown Hero of the Game.
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Over the summer, Keasler proposed the idea of honoring town residents who served or are currently serving in the military.
During the boys basketball season opener against Waldron, it became reality.
"When I saw Brenda hold up his picture, I was just kind of in awe. It gave me goosebumps," Keasler said. "I wrote the script, and with David’s voice how he read it, it was perfect. I think it honored Jim, and I think Brenda was really touched along with her family and the whole gym. I teared up. I was standing over here on the side, and I admit I was teary-eyed."
Farmer’s grandson, senior Carson Farmer, presented her with a flag and a framed certificate.
During the remaining home games this season, other players will be able to honor a Hometown Hero of the Game of their choosing.
Keasler said she had the idea for the past couple of years, and she finally figured out the right platform to make it happen.
"Over the summer, I just thought, ‘This is what brings our community together. On Friday and Saturday nights, it’s basketball,’" she said. "If you look up in the stands, it’s our town that comes here, so what a more perfect place to do that in … a way to honor people that have served."
Brenda said when Keasler let her know James would be honored, she thought it was very nice.
"It means a lot," she said. "Jim was so proud of the kids and the grandkids. He got to see Mackenzie and Clayton (two other granchildren), but he didn’t get to see Carson. He got to babysit for them some after he retired, and I’m glad he got to do that."
James and Brenda were married in December 1968, and he served in the U.S. Army from February 1969 to February 1971. He was in Vietnam from August 1969 to August 1970 and was attached to the 11th Armored Cavalry Unit as a tank driver.
He earned a Purple Heart, a Vietnam Service Medal, a Vietnam Campaign Medal, a Combat Badge, an Army Commendation Medal and an Expert Rifle Badge.
James lost his battle with cancer May 30, 2001, four months before Carson was born.
"Everything he does, we tell him it’s just about like Papaw," Brenda said of Carson.
Carson said he has always been told how good of a man his grandfather was.
"He did stuff for other people before he would do it for himself. It’s just who he was," he said. "A lot of the stuff, family doesn’t talk about, like Vietnam and stuff right after that."
Brenda said her husband was proud to serve his country, and he didn’t consider himself a hero, but she appreciates the basketball team’s gesture.
"It just shows respect. It’s just very humbling for them to do that," she said. "I think it’s a very good idea because there’s a lot of the kids that have grandparents and (other family members) that were in the military. I think it should mean a lot to a lot of them."
Having her grandson present the flag and certificate was "very, very special," Brenda said.
"He even gave me a hug," she said, smiling. "Angie said, ‘He’s going to come over, and I told him to give you a hug.’ I said, ‘I don’t know if he’ll do that out here,’ but he did. He was very sweet."
It was a special moment for Carson, too.
"I wasn’t really nervous. I was worried about not getting emotional. I didn’t want to cry going across the court," he said, smiling. "I know it means the world to her. She was about to tear up when I gave her a hug, so I knew she was really emotional."
Carson said he’s glad to be a part of the team’s effort in recognizing veterans in the community.
"It’s good for the whole community to know we need to honor our veterans and everybody that has served us, not just our veterans but our first responders and everybody like that — those people that deserve to be honored," he said.
Greg Kilgore, the Tigers’ head coach and the school’s athletic director, was happy to approve Keasler’s idea. He served in the U.S. Army for three years.
"I think it’s a really good thing to do to recognize those people and for the kids to realize the recognition part of it," he said. "A lot of them have connection to a military person somewhere."
Kilgore said he wants the players to be aware of those who have served, and that may inspire them to join the military, too.
"I want them to understand that there are people that have gone before them who either have died while serving or have given up time with family and friends to serve, and it’s a big commitment," he said.
The next home game is Dec. 7 against Switzerland County, and that will be extra special for Keasler because her father, Zack Nease, will be recognized for his service by her son, junior Quinten Keasler.
"Next time, I will be full-out bawling probably," she said, smiling.
"He’s very quiet. He’s very humble. He doesn’t like a lot of attention," Angie said of her dad. "He definitely will be out of his comfort zone with all eyes on him, but you know what? He deserves it."