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Is It Now Countercultural To Show Respect For The National Anthem?

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Following the tragic shooting in Uvalde, Texas, San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler told reporters he has elected not to take the field with his team during the pre-game playing of the national anthem until he “feels better about the direction of the country.” 

Other Major League Baseball managers such as Buck Showalter, Chris Woodward, and Torey Lovullo, praised Kapler’s action calling it “brave.” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts stated, “I respect Gabe’s decision…I’m not ‘happy’ with what’s going on.” 

Only White Sox manager Tony La Russa provided any push back stating, “I think he’s exactly right to be… concerned. Where I disagree is the flag and the anthem are not appropriate places to try to voice your objections.”

Watching these actions unfold from men who hold some of the highest leadership positions in our country, it begged the question, “is honoring the American flag, and subsequently the people who died protecting it, now a counterculture position?”

Growing up, I never realized that showing respect for our country was only reserved for days when we “feel good.” I was never told to honor our flag only when I was “happy with the country.” 

In fact, it is precisely the days when we don’t feel good, when we are unhappy, or when we have collectively experienced a tragedy that we most need to refrain from dishonoring our flag.

Not turning your back on our Nation’s most recognized symbol is just about the smallest sacrifice asked of us, and if that request is too big, what does it say about the state of our union?

I planned on spending this entire article pointing out the disingenuous nature of Kapler’s PR stunt, but since Memorial Day just passed, why give even more publicity to an ungrateful baseball manager when I could highlight the story of a true American hero.

Chester JaMichael McBride III

Special Agent Staff Sergeant Chester JaMichael McBride III was born on March 25, 1985. His friends and family knew him as CJ, and I had the great honor of playing football alongside him at Statesboro High School.

CJ was a star defensive back for a team that went 15-0 and won the 2001 state championship. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Savannah State University and a Masters from Valdosta State University.

In 2008, he enlisted in the Air Force and served as a ground combat specialist and Fire Team leader with the 822nd Security Forces Squadron. After completing many missions in the Middle East, he returned home, having secured a position with the FBI. Before starting that job, however, he volunteered himself for one final tour of duty.

On December 21, 2016, CJ heroically gave his life to save others in Afghanistan. He was among a group of six who paid the ultimate sacrifice that day for our country. 

Ask anyone who knew CJ what they remember most about him, and they’ll undoubtedly make mention of his infectious smile.

Ironically, CJ gave his life so Americans would continue to have the freedom to disrespect the flag he sacrificed his life for if they so choose. I choose not to disrespect the flag or the people that have protected that for which it stands. I choose to salute a great man, a great football player, and a great American.

Gabe Kapler did join his team for the National Anthem on Memorial Day, which, in many ways, is even more shameful because it shows that Kapler understands the importance of being present and standing tall with your team while the National Anthem rings out, yet he is still making a point to disgrace this symbolic gesture. 

CJ didn’t give his life so we could honor our fallen one day out of the year. He didn’t give his life so we could respect the flag only “when we feel good.”

He gave his life so that when tragedy strikes, we can come together as a nation and find actual solutions to our problems. 

If one feels that protesting publicly is necessary to solve a particular predicament, then he has every right to protest, but don’t aim frustrations at the very emblem which allows dissent to occur in the first place. If the bar for honoring our flag rests at “feeling happy,” then very few would ever honor it again, because happiness is an unreliable and fickle metric.

So, Gabe Kapler, as you return to sitting in the locker room by yourself as the Star-Spangled Banner echoes throughout every corner of the stadiums you visit, if it ever crosses your mind to ask, “What does a real hero look like?” He looks like CJ.

David Cone is a co-host of Crain & Company, the Daily Wire’s inaugural sports show, which is live every weekday at 3pm eastern on YouTube and Dailywire.com. David is also a former quarterback for the University of Michigan.

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.



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