Connor Brewer is fiercely loyal to his college football team. But he is also fiercely loyal to the United States of America.
So when the Millikin University football team decided to protest the national anthem by remaining inside the locker room – instead of on the sidelines – Connor was faced with a decision.
Would he join his teammates in their university-approved safe space or would he stand on the sidelines and honor America?
Connor chose to stand – alone.
One of my readers sent me a photograph of what transpired on Oct. 15th at the private Illinois university. It was deeply moving.
“I’m still teary-eyed just watching that video of him standing on that field for the anthem – all alone,” Kellie Brewer told me.
Connor declined to be interviewed – out of respect for his coaches and his team.
“Connor just wants to exercise his right and stand on the field,” Mrs. Brewer told me. “He by no means wants to cause controversy or problems. He loves playing football for Millikin and hopes he can continue without any grief.”
On Sept. 24th several football players took a page from disgraced NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick by taking a knee during the national anthem.
The community outrage was apparently so severe the football team decided to “forge a new path.”
“Rather than have our message be misunderstood or misconstrued, we are united in our decision to stay in the locker room until kickoff during which time we will engage in a moment of reflection to personally recognize the sacrifice of so many and renew our commitment to living up to those most important words: ‘with liberty and justice for all,’” the team wrote in a statement that was published in the Herald-Review.
So instead of standing along the sidelines and showing a little respect for the United States, the football team chose to hunker down in their safe space for some “locker room” talk.
“Please let there be no doubt that we have the utmost respect for the sacrifice made by those who served or do serve in our armed forces, including many of our family and friends,” the football team wrote. ‘Therefore, it is our desire to do nothing that could be viewed as disrespectful of their sacrifice.”
University president Patrick White offered up a pile of academic gobbledygook in defense of the football squad.
“We all need to listen to voices and opinions different from our own and listen with our hearts and minds awake to difference,” White wrote. “When the issues involve race and justice and differing contentions of what patriotism mean, all of us can stand more education.”
Well, I’m fairly certain patriotism does not mean burning Old Glory or spitting on soldiers or cowering inside a locker room while the “Star-Spangled Banner” is being performed.
Historians may consider the events of Oct. 16, 2016 as inconsequential, but that would be a shame.
Because it was the day an American citizen considered the cost and chose to defy the anti-American sentiment sweeping across the fruited plain. It was the day Connor Brewer, of Springfield, Illinois, stood resolute.
That young man is an American patriot.
Todd Starnes is host of Fox News Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. His latest book is “God Less America: Real Stories From the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values.” Follow Todd on Twitter @ToddStarnes and find him on Facebook.