On this date, thirty years ago……
Rick Monday never tires of answering questions about that memorable day 30 years ago, when he performed his own Patriot Act and unwittingly became an icon to millions of American war heroes and their loved ones.
Monday was playing center field for the Chicago Cubs on April 25, 1976, at Dodger Stadium when he noticed two protesters kneeling on the grass in left-center, intending to burn the American flag. He immediately bolted toward them and snatched it away.
I would venture to say that if a similar incident took place today the attempted flag burners would sue, claiming a violation of their constitutional rights.
"I was angry when I saw them start to do something to the flag, and I'm glad that I happened to be geographically close enough to do something about it," said Monday, now in his 13th season as a Dodgers broadcaster.
"What those people were doing, and their concept of what they were trying to do was wrong. That feeling was very strongly reinforced by six years in the United States Marine Corps Reserves. I still think it's wrong to do that."
In 1976 we were only a few short years removed from Vietnam. You think anti-Americanism is prevalent today? Most people would have responded with pride to being called “unpatriotic.” Thankfully, Rick Monday was not "most people."
"I know the people were very pleased to see Monday take the flag away from those guys," recalled Manny Mota, Monday's teammate that season and now a Dodgers coach. "I know Rick has done a lot of good things as a player and as a person. But what he did for his country, he will be remembered for the rest of his life as an American hero."
Now if we could just convince Monday to attend some of these pro-illegal immigration rallies.