“Take Me Out To The Ballgame”
and don’t even think about trying to burn our US Flag on the ball field!
On April 25th,
1976, at Dodger Stadium while 50,000 fans watched on, a scene played out in
centerfield that has never been forgotten. It was a Major League game between
the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers and playing centerfield for the
Chicago Cubs was lefty Rick Monday.
According to Rick, this
is what happened in the fourth inning. He says “I was in centerfield. I don't
know if I heard the crowd first or saw the guys first. But two guys went on the
field. One of the guys was carrying something and I noticed it was an American
flag. And when they got to shallow left field, they unfurled the flag, as if it
was a picnic blanket. They knelt beside it, not to honor it, but to douse it
with lighter fluid.”
The Players and the crowd at the Stadium could
not believe what they were witnessing - these two guys were about to burn the
American Flag. Rick Monday remembers getting very upset - what these guys were
doing was wrong. He thought about all the friends he had lost while protecting
the Rights and Freedoms that our flag represents, and he was mad.
So, Rick Monday started
to run. He said, “I saw them go and put the match down to the flag”, but he
thought “They can't light it if they don't have it.” So, Chicago Cub, Rick
Monday, scooped up that flag and took off running. To his amazement, it had
never been lit on fire.
And today, now retired
ballplayer, Rick Monday still gets letters from all across the country. But one
of the most moving letters was from a Vietnam vet. In his letter, the Vietnam
vet wrote that during his two tours of duty in Vietnam, he kept two things with
him. The first was a picture of his wife. The second was a small American flag
folded neatly in the left breast pocket of his uniform. He said he would be in
the mud for weeks and months at a time. And these two things were what he
looked at, to keep him connected with reality. He wrote in his letter, “thanks
for protecting what those of us who were in Vietnam, held so dearly”.
Rick Monday ended the
story with these simple yet powerful words. He says, “That wasn't just a flag
on the field. It was a flag that people look at with respect. We have a lot of
rights and freedoms in America. But we also have the option that If we don't
like something, we can make it better. Or we have the option - If we don't like
it, we can pack up and leave, but don't come on to the field and burn an
And one last piece to the
story. That day, after Monday saved that flag from being burned. There was
quite a buzz in the stands. People were shocked, but what they had just
experienced, but then without any prompting or direction by anyone, the 50,000
fans stood and began to sing “God Bless America”. 50,000 voices, people
who were moved by what they had seen, and they turned to God
Oh, may every day,
be a day that as a Nation, we turn to God.