American sporting events have become hotbeds of controversy in recent years, with protests like the NFL’s national anthem kneeling antics often receiving more attention than the games themselves.
Major League Baseball, however, has managed to stay out of the fray for the most part. “America’s pastime” may actually have some of the most patriotic fans in sports — and instead of kneeling, one of them just got attention for standing.
During an Atlanta Braves baseball game on Memorial Day, rain threatened to dampen everyone’s spirits, including a Marine Corps JROTC cadet in a crisp uniform.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) May 28, 2018
That cadet was standing at attention to pay respect to a POW/MIA memorial chair at the stadium, which sits empty as a sign of remembrance for soldiers who never returned home.
The JROTC member wasn’t alone, however. As the rain began to fall, a raincoat-wearing fan stood next to him, and extended an umbrella to shield the young man in uniform.
The moving photo was shared by the Braves on Twitter, and over 19,000 people “liked” the photo as of Thursday.
Many stadiums including SunTrust Park in Atlanta have unveiled special reserved areas that feature plaques dedicated to prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action.
“The Braves dedicated this chair in Suntrust Park last year to remember the servicemen and women who remain unaccounted for since World War I,” WXIN explained.
Soldiers missing in action became a major issue during the Vietnam War, with over 700 American troops taken as prisoners of war during that conflict, and around 1,700 regarded as MIA.
In the years since the mid-1970s, veterans groups help raise awareness of the issue, and the military made a strong effort to identify the fate and remains of those troops. Modern wars have had fewer soldiers taken prisoner or missing in action, but this situation still occurs today.
In many ways, the photo from the Atlanta baseball game is a snapshot of America’s values. There is the honor and discipline of the Marine cadet, standing at attention for his fallen brothers even as the rain pours down.
There is respect from the civilian next to him, taking the brunt of the storm and recognizing the importance of what the cadet is doing.
And there is the baseball stadium itself, a monument to one of America’s great games, a location where fathers bond with their sons and families spend time together … but also a place that takes the time to honor the men and women who sacrificed much so that such a game can be played in peace.
As “The Star Spangled Banner” declares, the United States truly is the home of the brave … just as Atlanta is the home of the Braves.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.