By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News
Posted 10/18/16 (Tue)
I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t like this lack of respect for the National Anthem at sporting events.
It’s really become quite a spectacle that started out with one individual, Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers.
In recent weeks, members of the Dickinson Blue Hawks college football team here in North Dakota refused to honor the flag or anthem before a game.
In my opinion, this is just one more thing that degrades us as Americans around the world.
Yes, it’s a free country, and yes, these people have a right to make their protest. They know that. We know that.
And what does a civil rights cause have to do with rejecting the U.S. National Anthem, and how did looting Wal-Mart become part of this scenario?
If you ask me, enemies of the United States will use this kind of propaganda to their advantage; a prime recruiting tool for ISIS.
For most of us, we’ve never seen this kind of behavior before and we don’t understand how American citizens can attempt to undermine the very freedoms that they have.
It’s appalling to see this, just as it was when the Ten Commandments were removed from public schools.
What has happened to the respect of the U.S. flag, the National Anthem, local law enforcement, the media and especially church and state.
It doesn’t have to be this way and it’s hard to imagine someone burning energy to promote such shallow causes.
Life can be a lot more relaxed, productive, socially pleasing and even fun when some of these grudges are removed.
I’d like to provide an example of respecting the U.S. flag and the National Anthem I witnessed 23 years ago. It was an incredible two minutes in my life and I remember it as if it was yesterday.
It was Oct. 15, 1993, one of numerous trips I made to Winnipeg that year.
There was an expansion team in the Canadian Football League called the Sacramento Gold Miners and they had a game scheduled in Winnipeg.
The team was getting a lot of attention since they made history that year as being the first U.S. based team in the league, the first expansion team to defeat an established team and the first professional football team to jump from one league (Sacramento Surge of the World League of American Football) to another (Sacramento Gold Miners of the Canadian Football League).
Of course, with any international sporting event, both National Anthems were played and before that, paratroopers parachuted out of airplanes as they flew over the top of Winnipeg Stadium; one paratrooper with the Canadian flag and one with the U.S. flag.
Their landing was nearly perfect and when they hit the ground and recovered, the guy with the Canadian flag presented it to the Gold Miners and the guy with the American flag, presented it to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Then, according to international protocol, the U.S. National Anthem was played first on the intercom system.
As the anthem began, there were two older men on either side of me, singing the Star Spangled Banner in a stadium of 35,000 people, belting out the words like nobody’s business.
I was dumbfounded listening to these guys who appeared well into their 70s singing the Star Spangled Banner.
But then I thought, the Blue Bombers get a lot of Americans at their games, maybe these guys were from Grafton or Grand Forks or something.
Admittedly, I was a little embarrassed because when Oh Canada was played on the intercom, I knew right away, there was no way I was going to duplicate, or even come close to the vocals of these two elderly football fans.
But at the same time, I felt very comfortable knowing the American flag and the American National Anthem were so well respected on Canadian soil, because it wasn’t just the guys on my flanks, I heard singing the Star Spangled Banner in various parts of the stadium, but it was muffled as it sometimes is in a sports complex.
Gee, would this be the highlight of the entire game? Could that opening have more impact than the final score or how the Gold Miners were received in Winnipeg?
I think it was and here’s why I think so.
After the U.S. anthem, one of the guys nudged me and said, “I was in the war, you know. Those Americans, they were some pretty good ole boys.”