The year was 1976. It was our country’s bicentennial – we had been a free nation for exactly 200 years. It was April 25 and our baseball season was in full swing. That day one of the many games going on was between the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers playing at Dodger Stadium.  Playing center field for the Cubs was lefty Rick Monday. According to Rick, this is what happened in the fourth inning. He says,

“I was in center field. I don’t know if I heard the crowd first or saw the guys first, but two guys ran on the field.”  He said, “When people run on the field, you don’t know what’s going to happen. Is it because they had too much to drink? Are they trying to win a bet? They just don’t know.”

But as Rick Monday watched the whole scene play out, he knew something wasn’t right. One of the guys was carrying something, and then he noticed it was an American flag. And when they got to shallow left field, they unfurled the flag as if it was a picnic blanket. They knelt beside it, not to honor it, but to douse it with lighter fluid. The players and the crowd at the stadium could not believe what they were witnessing. These two guys were about to burn the American flag! Rick Monday remembers thinking, “What these guys were doing was wrong. It was wrong in 1976 and it’s wrong now.” He thought about all the friends he had lost while protecting the rights and freedoms that flag represented – and he was mad.

So, Rick Monday started to run. He says, “To this day, I can’t tell you what was going through my mind, except I was mad and I was angry”.

When the two men lit that first match, the wind blew it out. As Monday ran toward them, he remembers thinking, that in itself was strange because there was hardly ever any wind at Dodger Stadium.

Then, the second match was lit. Monday saying, “I saw them go and put the match down to the flag. But they can’t light it if they don’t have it”. So, Chicago Cub Rick Monday scooped up that flag and took off running. To his amazement, it had never been lit on fire!

As Monday ran to the dugout with the flag, Dodger third-base coach, Tommy Lasorda, made his way to the two men and asked them to take just one swing so that he could give these guys what the 50,000 people wanted them to get – a good licking! But, by now, they had been led off the field by security.

Today, over 40 years later, now retired ballplayer, Rick Monday, still gets letters from all over the country. But one of the most moving letters was from a Vietnam vet. In his letter this Vietnam vet wrote that during his two tours of duty in Vietnam he kept two things with him. The first was a picture of his wife. The second was a small American flag folded neatly in the left breast pocket of his uniform. He said he would be in the mud for weeks and months at a time, and these two things were what he looked at to keeping him connected with reality. He wrote in his letter, “Thanks for protecting what those of us who were in Vietnam held so dearly”.

Rick Monday ends his story with these simple, yet powerful words. He says,

“That wasn’t just a flag on the field. It was a flag that people look at with respect. We have a lot of rights and freedoms. But we also have the option, if we don’t like something, to make it better. Or you also have the option, if you don’t like it, to pack up and leave. But don’t come onto the field and burn an American flag”.

Photographer James Roark was at the stadium that day and he snapped the photo just as Monday snatched the flag from the protesters. The photo was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Later that year Dodger general manager, Al Campanis, presented that flag to Rick Monday and today it hangs proudly in his home in Vero Beach, Florida.

And one last piece to the story. That day after Monday saved that flag from being burned and the protestors were taken off the field; there was quite a buzz in the stands. People were shocked by what they had just experienced. But then, without any prompting or direction by anyone, the 50,000 fans stood and began to sing “God Bless America” – 50,000 voices, people who were moved by what they had seen, and they turned to God.

“God bless America, my home sweet home”.

Oh, may every day be a day that as a nation we turn to God.

About Jerry Stewart

I am a story teller. Since 1998, I have been telling the true stories of our nation and those Americans gone before us.  To say the least, these stories have been well received by Americans, both young and old.  So, here’s where the stories have taken me.  In 1998, I was broadcasting my stories on just one radio station in Washington State.  Today, from Texas 15 years later, these programs are now broadcast through a syndicated radio network to over 400 radio stations all across America, with literally millions of listeners.

Featured Image: By Ildar Sagdejev (Specious) – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

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“The Most Famous Tea Party in History”

    We’ve all heard of the Boston Tea Party, but few really know just what happened. The year was 1763 and Great Britain had just ended a war known as the “Seven Years War”, and this war had driven the British government so deep into debt that a series of tax laws were passed to help pay that debt – and these laws made their way to America.

Now, the way the colonists saw it was that they had no say or representation in their national government, and, therefore, Parliament had no right to tax them. This is where the saying came from, “no taxation without representation”.

Well, in 1766, Parliament passed what is called the “Declaratory Act”. This act gave the British government the authority to legislate the laws and rules for the American colonies, and in all cases the government had the final authority.

So, colonist groups began to organize at the grassroots level and they formed patriotic clubs and organizations known as the “Sons of Liberty”. They would use these club meetings to talk through their unfair circumstances and they began to send delegates and representatives to the British leaders to try and convince them that what they were doing was not for the good of the people. But the British government had their own ideas as to what was best for the people, so most of the time they would not even listen.

Starting to sound a little too familiar?

    So as the different Liberty groups in each city began to form and grow, they found themselves linking up with other city groups causing them to become bolder in their speaking out. In the City of Boston there was a famous elm tree where the Sons of Liberty would meet. This tree came to be known as the “Liberty Tree” and it became a rallying point for the growing colonist resistance against the British rule. Soon each city and community began to pick their own liberty tree as a meeting spot as a symbol of their individual liberty. As these liberty groups began to me in large numbers and the attendance began to grow, in their attempt to stop these meetings, the British government ordered that holding any meetings not authorized by the government was against the law. So, the Sons of Liberty members began to meet in secret.

Well, the struggle continued between the colonists and the British government with more and more laws being enacted. What seemed to be the final straw was that in 1773, a new act, the “Tea Act” was passed, placing a heavy tax on all tea transported to the colonies. Shortly after the Tea Act was passed, a number of ships entered Boston Harbor carrying on board hundreds of thousands of pounds of tea. When the local liberty group heard of the ship’s arrival, they sent a message to the ship’s captain not to unload the tea because they would not pay that tax. But the local British authorities would not budge, so there sat the three ships in Boston Harbor.

Now no one knows for sure who really planned that “tea party” or who the real leaders were, but one night somewhere between 30 and 130 Men thinly disguised as Indians boarded the three ships and, over the course of three hours, dumped all the tea into the harbor – this dumping of that tea became known as the “Boston Tea Party”. Interestingly enough, later that Tea Act was actually repealed, but the damage had already been done, and the people had determined that their government would not listen to them – and they began to move for independence.

So, here’s my question for you, “Are the events in our lives which make us wake up and act – are they good or bad?” It was patriot, Edmund Burke, who said, “He who wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skills; our antagonist is our helper”.

But this one thing we do know – if the British government had not pushed the colonists too far, well, today, we might still be speaking with a British accent.

And one last thought, “What should “We The People” be doing today if we feel we are not being heard?

And are mere protests enough? You tell me.

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