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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Happy Flag Day

This year marks the 30th Anniversary of when then-Chicago Cub center fielder Rick Monday, after noticing two protesters jumping onto the field and attempting to burn a Star Spangled Banner while kneeling on the outfield grass, ran immediately toward them and snatched it away during an early season game against the Dodgers in LA.

As a nine year-old child at the time, I have only fond memories of the extended celebration of the country's Bicentennial, but in a post from last year, Captain Ed recalls the state of the national psyche, just removed from Vietnam, and the power of Monday's action:
[W]hen Monday took off with the flag, all of the cynicism and defeatism of the past two years melted away. Watching Monday rescue the flag from two lunatics who tried to hijack a baseball game for their protest, which would have provided the perfect nadir of American morale at that time, the crowd did something no one expected. [Dodger manager Tommy] Lasorda recalled in his book that starting softly, the crowd started singing "God Bless America", completely unprompted, until all of the tens of thousands of Dodger fans had joined together to sing it. It was one of the few unscripted and spontaneous patriotic displays in our Bicentennial, and one of the most moving at any time.
The entire scene has been included in a list of 100 Classic Moments in the History of the Game published by the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The flag was presented to Monday, a 19-year major league veteran and 6-year veteran of the Marine Corps Reserves, later in the '76 season. He has it proudly displayed and has refused an offer of $1 million.
That little piece of cloth represents a lot of rights and freedoms that people have given up their lives to protect... But the flag is not for sale. What this flag represents, you can't buy.

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