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The Greatest Play

Rick Monday was just minding his own business. His business was baseball; playing center field to be specific. His team, the Chicago Cubs, was at Dodger Stadium for a three-game series against Los Angeles. It was April 25, 1976 and the country was celebrating its bicentennial. It was the bottom of the fourth inning.

Two people ran out of the stands and onto the field, one of them carrying an American flag under his arm. They stopped in left-center field, knelt down, and spread the flag on the ground. One of the men doused the flag in lighter fluid. The other lit a match. Rick Monday decided to make this his business.

He ran toward the protesters. "To this day, I couldn't tell you what was running through my mind except I was mad," said Monday. The wind blew out the match, but they quickly lit another. That's when Monday arrived. "I saw them go and put the match down to the flag. It's soaked in lighter fluid at this time. Well, they can't light it if they don't have it. So I just scooped it up."

With the rescued flag in hand, Monday continued running toward the Dodger dugout, where he turned over the flag for safekeeping. While police escorted the protesters off the field, Monday resumed his post in center field. The Dodger fans began to applaud him. As the meaning of what they had just witnessed hit home, they cheered louder. A message went up on the scoreboard that read, "Rick Monday...you made a great play." The crowd came to their feet, giving Monday a standing ovation. People began to sing, "God Bless America."

Rick Monday is a hero. He took action for his convictions that April day in 1976. Today, he publicly advocates for a Constitutional amendment prohibiting burning the American flag. Thanks to people like him, the Senate is debating such an amendment this week.

Thirty years later, Monday reflects on the significance of that day. "What they were doing was wrong then, in 1976. In my mind, it's wrong now, in 2006. It's the way I was raised. My thoughts were reinforced with my six years in the Marine Corp Reserves. It was also reinforced by a lot of friends who lost their lives protecting the rights and freedoms that flag represented."

Make a great play of your own. Stand up for your convictions!
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