The media is filled with stories and comments from people about the football players who refused to stand and respect the American Flag and the Pledge of Allegiance.

These players live in the freedom and safety our government and our Armed Forces provide for us all. They are free to use their God-given talents to earn huge salaries which lets them live in luxury. Why the disrespect?

If I could talk with them, I would tell them the story of my great grandfather who fought and was wounded as a Union Soldier. His leg was badly wounded in battle and they wanted to amputate his leg, but knowing that few survived the infection that often followed, Grandfather wanted to get to a northern hospital where his leg might be saved. A big black man carried him to a barge on a river headed north. Grandfather let his injured leg hang in the river water and by the time he reached a northern hospital his leg healed. Great Grandfather lived to rear 14 children. I am one of many descendants.

What does that story have to do with the players dishonoring our flag? Grandfather and that black man, whose name we do not know, were just two of the multitude of service men that are honored when the Flag is pledged. As a result of that war the Union was reunited and the slave was set free.

Let’s remember the words of Lincoln on that Battlefield at Gettysburg: “…that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Do I hate these men for their disrespect? No, there is too much hate already. But I do hope the next time they fall on their knees, it will be to thank God for the freedom and protection for which that flag stands.

Pat Wetzel, Mattoon

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