Today is June 6th. It is the 76th anniversary of D-Day; the invasion of Normandy. D-Day, 1946 marked the largest air, land and sea invasion in history. 150,000 allied troops arrived on the beaches of Western Europe. It was the turning point in World War II. It allowed the allies to gain a foothold in Europe and to initiate the offensive that defeated the Nazi forces to once again bring peace to a ravaged world. There were over 9,000 soldiers that lost their live on June 6th, 1944 in the D-Day Invasion. Interesting to be celebrating that anniversary this week isn’t it? The survivors of D-Day and World War II are now about 95 years old. Ray Lambert is 98. He arrived with the first assault wave on Omaha Beach. He still remembers that day. It is estimated that there might be around 900 survivors like Ray that are still alive. I wonder what they have to say about our current events.
Oh, wait, Rick Monday. Right. Rick Monday was not around for World War II. He was actually born about a year and a half after D-Day. Rick was a great baseball player growing up. He has the distinction of being the first player picked in the inaugural 1965 Major League Baseball draft. Rick was one of the original Bonus Baby’s, getting an unheard of bonus back in those days that was more than what star players were being paid at the height of their careers; A bit nutty to say the least.
Rick is probably best known these days for his fairly high-profile job as announcer for the Los Angeles Dodgers. But Rick had a long and distinguished 19 year baseball career. Rick played for the Cubs and the Dodgers and though he had an above-average career, he is best remembered for the “American Flag Incident”. I did not see this one, but as often happened, I caught it live, listening to the radio. I paraphrase the event from Wikipedia: At Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on April 25, 1976, two protesters ran into left-center field and tried to set fire to the American flag after the start of the bottom of the 4th inning. Monday, the Cubs center fielder…. dashed over and grabbed the flag to thunderous cheers. Monday ran through the infield with the flag and while walking towards the Dodger dugout met and handed the flag over to Dodgers pitcher Doug Rau. The ballpark police officers arrested and escorted the two intruders, William Thomas and his 11-year-old son…When Monday came to bat in the top half of the 5th inning, he got a standing ovation from the crowd and the big message board behind the left-field bleachers in the stadium flashed the message, “Rick Monday… You Made A Great Play…” He later said, “If you’re going to burn the flag, don’t do it around me. I’ve been to too many veterans’ hospitals and seen too many broken bodies of guys who tried to protect it.” Monday had served, while playing Major League Baseball, a six-year commitment with the US Marine Corps reserves as part of his ROTC obligation after leaving Arizona State.
I am not sure where Rick Monday is this week. With professional sports still sidelined, I am not sure what professional sports announcers are doing. Perhaps they are reading the paper, and watching the news with keen interest. I wonder what Rick has to say about the Drew Brees incident, and the NFL/Roger Goodell response. I wonder what Ray Lambert thinks when he reads about the U-turn by the NFL, now in support of kneeling during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner.
I don’t think it would surprise me if Rick and Ray are a bit confused. I wonder if they think maybe Drew Brees had it right the first time. After all, peaceful protests and demonstrations are allowed under the US Constitution. But Rick and Ray know that those Constitutional rights are still in place and going strong because of the actions and bravery of many on the beaches of Normandy, and maybe a few at Dodger Stadium.
SSOMG says ok, make your statements and have your marches, but remember how and why you are able to do those things in this country to begin with…. the flag, a symbol of the land of the free, and the home of the brave.