Two football players on the Little Miami (OH) High School team have been suspended from the team after they defied school officials and carried a thin blue line and thin red line flags, supporting police and firefighters, onto the field before last Friday's September 11 game.
Senior cornerback Brady Williams, whose father is a police officer, carried the thin blue line flag onto the field. "I was just doing it to honor the people that lost their lives 19 years ago," Williams told WKRC.
The thin red line flag was carried by Jarad Bentley. His father is a firefighter. “I was all for it,” he told the Cincinnati TV station. “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 two players asked school officials for permission to carry the flags, but they were denied. The players chose to defy the school authorities and the school responded by slapping them with an indefinite suspension.
“We can’t have students who decide to do something anyway after they’ve been told that they shouldn’t be doing it,” Little Miami Superintendent Gregory Power told WKRC. “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 many other families may not agree with from a political perspective."
Brady Williams' mother, Kellie, wrote on Facebook about the situation and what it means for her son to take a stand:
On the anniversary of one of the worst days in American history, my son and some of his teammates want to honor the men and women who gave their lives to save others. They want to honor firefighters and law enforcement officers by carrying the thin red line and thin blue line flags in addition to the American flag as the Little Miami Local Schools Panthers take the football field tonight.
Unfortunately, they were told no. NO?! On the 19th anniversary of 9/11?! Let me also say that one of their coaches is a police officer. One of their players LOST a family member on 9/11/01. My emails to the AD, assistant AD, and AD secretary have all gone unanswered. I have never been more disappointed in a school’s decision.
Sometimes standing for something that’s right, means you may stand alone. I’m proud of the son we have raised. A son that knows right from wrong. He knows the importance of honoring the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice at a time when he wasn’t even born. WE WILL NEVER FORGET!
Update: the school district has reinstated the football players.