The axiom – “Life is about choices” – was certainly applicable last weekend in the National Football League.
Actions to protest President Trump’s comments that owners should fire players who don’t stand for the national anthem were varied. Some teams didn’t come on the field for the anthem. In Carolina, 10 Saints chose not to stand for the Star Spangled Banner.
That is their choice. Whether you agree or disagree, it is a freedom provided by this great country.
Let me tell you why I stand.
My father, Warren Easton Class of 1941, joined the Navy after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in World War II. After that, I know very little about his war experiences.
My mother told me he was a radio man on a destroyer in the Mediterranean Sea. He never, ever spoke about his experiences. The only time we ever discussed World War II is when my mother handed him a paper I had written at school about the Doolittle Raid. The Doolittle Raid is featured in the movie “Pearl Harbor.”
On April 18, 1942, 80 crew members took off in bombers from an aircraft carrier and attacked Japan. Most landed in hostile territory on the Chinese coast. In the movie, Alec Baldwin plays the role of Lt. Col. James Doolittle.
Baldwin’s line to his volunteer force is simple: “Take a good look at the man beside you. There’s a good chance in the next six weeks, you or he, will be dead.”
I stand for them and my father.
I also stand for Eric Paul Mistretta, Archbishop Rummel Class of 1968. Mr. Mistretta was killed serving in the United States Army in Vietnam in 1970. I only knew him in passing. My mother told me he had delivered newspapers in our neighborhood. Serving his country, he lived only 20 years.
My WGNO sports colleague Robert O’Shields comes from an Army family. His mother is Korean. She met Robert’s father there. Robert’s father served in Korea and Vietnam.
I stand for the late Mr. O’Shields. Robert’s mother is a great lady, a person who truly appreciates the greatness and the opportunities in our country.
I stand for the all of the first responders who were going up the stairs in the towers at the World Trade Center on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. They had a choice, too. And, they made it, giving their lives so others could live.
But, you have a choice, too. If you believe that social injustice permeates our society – and that the players who protest are correct – I respect your right to protest.
Peaceful protest is one of the things that makes our country great.
Those who don’t agree with the protests have a choice, too. Football on Sundays is entertainment. If you don’t like the entertainment, turn it off.
Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.