Rick Monday still has the flag.
He asked for it the day after he snatched it from two guys who had run on the field at Dodger Stadium and tried to burn it during a game on April 25, 1976.
Monday, the Cubs center fielder that day, thinks about that when he sees 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and other athletes sit or kneel during the pregame performances of the national anthem in protest.
“My thoughts have not changed from the time I was raised to that moment in 1976 here when those two guys were trying to ignite the American flat and disrespect those that have stood up for us and represent the rights and freedoms that all of us have,” said Monday, now a Dodger broadcaster, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch and was honored before Tuesday’s game.
“Someone asked me about the football player,” he said. “My concern is not with him sitting down. My concern what’s he going to do once he stands up? I’m going to watch what he does when he finally stands up.”
Monday’s wife, Barbaralee, has taken the flag Rick saved on fundraising tours to more than a dozen states in support of veterans issues.
“The irony of it is that the very symbol that those guys were trying to desecrate that afternoon still has a life,” he said. “She’s raised a great deal of money for military charities. It’s been a very positive influence and something we’re very proud of.”
Asked about the possible value in the national conversation Kaepernick has sparked, Monday said he has not followed that part of the issue, “because it irritates me to begin with.
“For me it disrespects everyone who has served in this country of ours,” he said. “I cannot understand the argument. I’ve lost friends protecting the rights and freedoms we have in this country. I’ve attended funerals at Arlington National Cemetery. I don’t get it.”