Reader Paul Malingowski writes:
Why can’t we have one symbol, one sacred symbol which represents all that have been done by past patriots and is being done now, by current patriots?
I can still recall a moment back in 1966 where I was lying in mud, dirty, tired, wishing I could be home, anywhere but here in the worst way and I saw my flag. I cannot describe for you adequately how my heart swelled. I knew what that flag represented, my family, my country, everything that I wished to be good, all that I knew was good in my country. I would die. It was not a questionable thing. I loved, love, that flag, I understood.
The first time I saw it being burned on TV by a bunch of laughing, mocking, filthy group, I was so shocked and sad. We had many laws back then protecting our flag but judges felt they were unconstitutional. People who want an admendment are only trying to restore what judges have removed. All the good that good men and women have done for this country, the untold amount of blood shed is sybolized in that flag.
I don’t think any of us disagrees with Mr. Malingowski’s sentiments. We think of the flag seen at dawn’s early light at Fort McHenry, of the flag raising on Iwo Jima, of the rescue of the flag from burning in one of the great moments in baseball history:
The day was April 25, 1976. The Cubs were playing the Dodgers in Los Angeles. Patrolling center field for the Cubs was 30-year-old Rick Monday, who was embarking upon what would be the best season of his career, with 32 home runs and 77 runs batted in. On this spring day in ’76, he was on a Cubs team that was headed for a fourth place finish in the National League East. It was the fourth inning with the Dodgers batting.
The Vietnam War had ended a year before, but people didn’t need a war in order to protest. What these two ding-a-lings who had just dashed onto the field of Dodger Stadium were all about nobody knew, but here they were, and where was security? They had come from the left-field corner and had just run past Cubs left fielder Jose Cardenal. One carried something under his arm but Monday couldn’t distinguish what it was. Once they reached shallow left-center, they stopped and brought out the object. Monday could see; it was the U.S. flag.
He recalled that they laid it on the ground almost as if they were about to have a picnic. Then one of them dug into his pocket and brought out something shiny and metallic. “I figured having gone to college two and two is sometimes four,” Monday said. “They were dousing it with lighter fluid.” Then they lit a match. Which flared momentarily and died. By now, Monday was in full stride, running towards them. “To this day, I don’t know what I was thinking,” he said. “Except bowl them over.” He was also thinking they were trying to commit a terrible act.
“What they were doing was extremely wrong as far as I was concerned,” said Monday, who served six years in the Marine Reserves. He reached them about the time they got the second match lit and were about to torch the flag. “There’s a picture that I think won the Pulitzer Prize and it showed me reaching down and grabbing the flag,” he said. Monday got the flag and handed it to Doug Rau, a Dodger’s pitcher. That was the last Monday saw of it until a month later. The Dodgers came to Wrigley Field and Al Campanis, a Dodgers executive, presented the flag to Monday. “It’s displayed very proudly in my home,” he said.
Monday got a hero’s welcome wherever the Cubs played the rest of that season. It was the last thing he wanted. He had simply done what he thought was the right and honorable thing to do. He had visited a veterans hospital when he played for Oakland and had seen how people’s lives had been shattered fighting for what that flag represents. “It’s the way I was brought up,” he said. “You would have done the same thing had you been as close geographically as I was, to get the idiots stopped.”
More here, including the photo of Monday rescuing the flag.