I’m proud to say the Saginaw Township Youth Football Hawks embodies “The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave”. Why do I make that statement? First, because of what I witnessed.
Second, because of this story. Perhaps you heard about the incident recently before a youth football game in Cahokia, Illinois. A team of 8-year-olds knelt during the national anthem while turning their backs on the American flag.
The coach says the idea came from the kids and parent’s approved the protest.
My intent is not to comment on that story, but it does serve as the basis for what I’m going to tell you.
I don’t believe in kneeling during the national anthem as a form of protest. I think it’s an inappropriate way to express dissatisfaction no matter what the cause.
Obviously, others disagree, and that’s fine. You have the freedom in America to do what you think is right and I think is wrong. As long as you’re not breaking any laws, of course.
So, what happened involving the Saginaw Township Youth Football Hawks?
The STYF Hawks 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade teams all practice at White Pine School in Saginaw Township.
It’s the same place Heritage High School plays its home soccer matches. The other day, as football practices were underway, a soccer game was about to begin, but before the game started, the Star-Spangled Banner started to play.
It started kind of quietly at first, but the volume was quickly adjusted, and there was no mistaking what was playing, even hearing it over a single, scratchy loudspeaker.
And then it began. All the youth football players stopped their practices, started to remove their helmets, and searched for the American flag. Many who could see the flag placed their hands over their hearts. Others who did not see the flag stood at attention. The rest at least stood in respect.
Black kids, white kids, Mexican kids, Latino kids, Asian kids… American kids. My kid, as Charlie is trying football for the first time. All kids, united by the Star-Spangled Banner.
Why? What was the difference in what I saw compared to what 8-year-old football players in Illinois were doing during the national anthem?
I’m sure there are many reasons, including coaches in Illinois that supported the kneel down, and coaches in Saginaw Township that demanded standing up.
I know what I witnessed has happened before in many other places and I know it will happen again. Just as I know more kneel downs will happen, too.
“O Say Can You See”… Yes, I can see, and I was proud to see what I saw.
(flag picture is the Francis Scott Key flag, the flag that flew over Ft. McHenry and inspired the writing of the Star Spangled Banner – courtesy National Museum of American History)