MORROW, Ohio — Two high school football players in Ohio – one the son of a sheriff’s deputy and the other the son of a firefighter – carried first responder flags onto the field before their game Sept. 11 — note the date. Their goal was to honor the fallen heroes who died in attacks 19 years ago.
There were approximately 412 first responders killed during the terrorist attacks, and by many estimates there have been hundreds, if not more than a thousand who’ve died of cancer related illnesses since then. So anyone who prohibits first responder symbols during 9/11 events is in essence denying reality.
Unfortunately, the ambitious high school athletes were briefly suspended for their tribute.
As the players took the field on a game advertised as “Patriot Night,” they brought a “Thin Blue Line” and a “Thin Red Line” flag with them, leading another teammate who carried an American flag.
But their request for permission to carry the flags was denied by district officials, according to the head of the Little Miami Local Schools Board of Education.
After the game they found themselves suspended from the team, WKRC-TV reported.
Brady Williams, a deputy’s son who plays cornerback for Little Miami High School, told the news organization he brought the flag to honor the people killed in the Sept. 11 attacks.
He and his teammate, Jarad Bentley, denied the move was politically motivated. Bentley carried the “Thin Red Line” flag.
The board of education and district administrators eventually agreed – overturning the athletic director’s suspension on Tuesday, reported Law Officer.
An Important Statement from Little Miami Board of Education. pic.twitter.com/E2fpHsJfnM
— Little Miami Schools (@LM_Schools) September 15, 2020
“The results show that there were no political motivations behind this display of support for first responders on 9/11,” Board of Education President Bobbie Grice said in a statement. “But there were stances of insubordination.”
Grice said the boys are allowed to return to practice and that any potential punishment for failing to follow instructions would come from their coaches, not district administrators.
It reversed a decision handed down last week by athletics director Gregory Power, as WKRC reported.
“We can’t have students who decide to do something anyway after they’ve been told that they shouldn’t be doing it,” he told the news organization.
He said he had concerns that the flags were political in nature and could set a precedent, allowing other flags that had the potential to stir up political controversy.
- AFTER BUSINESS IS VANDALIZED DUE TO THIN BLUE LINE FLAGS, OWNER DOUBLES DOWN ON SUPPORT FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT
The district also wanted to avoid further displays after reinstating the boys, FOX reported.
“As the season continues, the only two flags that will come through the Little Miami football tunnel are the flag of the United States of America and the Little Miami spirit flag,” Grice said.
Nevertheless, the players said the controversy was worth it.
“My dad is a firefighter, and if it had been him killed on 9/11, I would have wanted someone to do it for him,” Bentley told WKRC.
“I don’t care what my consequences are,” Williams added. “As long as my message gets across, I’ll be happy.”
Two Little Miami football players pay the price for civil disobedience. They were told not to carry onto the field thin blue line and thin red line flags at their 9/11 game. They did anyway. The school has now suspended them from the team indefinitely. #ThinBlueLine #ThinRedLine pic.twitter.com/19y9GAvaxr
— David Winter (@DavidWinterTV) September 14, 2020
On Friday, a local non-profit group called “Holiday for Heroes” said it is awarding Williams and Bentley a scholarship for their statement, WJAC-TV reported.
“Brady and Jarad are true PATRIOTS, they did something last Friday that showed they are far beyond their years,” the group said. “These men stood up for a cause they believe in. As they took the field with flags in hand it reminded us how we felt 19 years ago, heartbroken yet strong and united.”
The group has not disclosed how much the scholarships will be worth.
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