Though the controversy over NFL players kneeling in protest during the national anthem has been greatly diminished this season — largely due to fewer players taking a knee, the media not talking about it as much and TV broadcasters refraining from showing it — the anti-American gesture nevertheless remains a sore spot for many patriotic sports fans that was never adequately addressed by the league.
Aside from being viewed by many as anti-American and disrespectful of the service members who’ve fought and died for this nation’s freedoms, the protests also are widely seen as being anti-law enforcement, given the initial reasoning for the protests as stated by the first kneeler — former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick — as being against allegedly racist cops routinely abusing, harassing and killing minorities without consequence.
Enter the NHL, whose players — hailing from all across the U.S., Canada and many European nations — all stand respectfully for the playing of both the American and Canadian anthems, even when the particular anthem played isn’t their own.
Prior to the start of the Colorado Avalanche’s game against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday in Denver, the arena lights were used to cast the image of the instantly recognizable “thin blue line” flag on the ice. The black-and-white American flag with a blue line running through the middle is used to honor law enforcement officers.
The tribute was part of the Avalanche’s second annual Faceoff for Fallen Officers event.
A moment of silence to honor the service and sacrifice made by Colorado’s fallen heroes.
Thank you. pic.twitter.com/DVflRoc4Go
— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) January 19, 2019
Video of the tribute was shared on Facebook by the Brotherhood for the Fallen in Aurora, Colorado, which hosted the event — along with the Colorado Fallen Hero Foundation — and it was quite a sight to behold.
As the arena lights dimmed and the “thin blue line” flag was displayed on the ice, the crowd began to cheer wildly.
The voice of the arena announcer intoned, “In 2018, 148 of our nation’s law enforcement heroes gave their lives in the line of duty. It is not how these officers died that made them heroes, it’s how they lived.”
“Please take a moment to honor the service and sacrifice made by Colorado’s fallen heroes,” the announcer said.
A respectful silence fell across the entire arena as the names and “end of watch” dates of four fallen Colorado law enforcement officers were displayed on the massive scoreboard screens hanging above center ice.
After that brief moment of honor for the fallen officers, the announcer thanked the crowd for their show of respect and proceeded to introduce the flag-bearing color guard for the playing of the national anthem, again to wild cheers of support from the crowd.
Throughout all of that, the starting players for both teams stood respectfully at center ice along with the referees, with nary a knee taken among them.
The NHL, composed as it is of an incredibly diverse flavor of nationalities, nevertheless always shows great honor and respect not just to this great nation, but also to the men and women who place their lives on the line to protect their communities.
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