Two high school football players were suspended from their team after they carried flags onto the field honoring first responders, including their fathers, on the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
WKRC-TV reported that two players on the Little Miami High School football team in the southwest Ohio community of Morrow were warned Friday not to carry flags on the field honoring American heroes on the somber anniversary.
Brady Williams and Jarad Bentley asked for permission to honor first responders from their school by carrying flags out onto the field before kickoff, but they were told they were forbidden from doing so.
Their school had told them that by honoring police officers and firefighters, they might put someone in the position of feeling offended, WKRC reported.
While messages posted on social media often remind people to “never forget” the tragedy on the somber anniversary, the two teens were willing to sacrifice their spots on the team to stand up for their beliefs.
Williams and Bentley ignored the order to refrain from honoring American heroes on the date of one of the country’s biggest tragedies.
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
Bentley carried out a “thin red line” flag in honor of firefighters.
“I was all for it,” he told WKRC. “Because 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.”
The New York City Fire Department lost 343 firefighters on 9/11.
Williams, meanwhile, carried out a “thin blue line” flag in honor of police officers.
Asked by WKRC if he intended to make a political statement, Williams said, “No.”
“Not at all. I was just doing it to honor the people that lost their lives 19 years ago,” he said.
Williams’ father is a police officer in the area.
When Bentley and Williams returned to class Monday, they were both informed they had been indefinitely suspended from the team.
School athletic director Gregory Power told Bentley and Williams about the suspensions and explained his rationale to WKRC.
“We can’t have students who decide to do something anyway after they’ve been told that they shouldn’t be doing it,” Powers said.
He went on to describe symbolism that honors first responders as “political.”
“We did not want to place ourselves in a circumstance where another family might want a different flag to come out of the tunnel, one that may be [one that] many other families may not agree with from a political perspective,” Powers said.
While the two players were suspended, they had the support of their community.
WKRC reported Powers was being inundated with angry messages over his decision to suspend the boys after Williams’ mother shared the story of what happened online.
The players apparently also had the approval of their teammates.
“I realize that this was more than just a football team; these guys are now my brothers,” Williams told the outlet.
After an investigation by school officials, Williams and Bentley were reinstated to the team. Read the update here.
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