I have been traveling the last couple of days (more on that in a subsequent post), and on the plane back today I read this story about an historical event that I never knew about before.
The hand was trembling, the voice was quivering and tears were running down his face.The man deserves all of the attention that he is getting 30 years later.
The World War II soldier, who survived the Pearl Harbor attack, looked Rick Monday in the eyes, slowly raised his right arm, and saluted him.
"Thank you," Monday recalls the soldier telling him last year. "And thank you from all of my shipmates."
Thirty years ago today, Monday became an American hero.
It was the day he saved the American flag.
"It was the greatest heroic act that's ever happened on a baseball field," Hall of Fame manager Tom Lasorda said. "He protected the symbol of everything that we live for. And the symbol that we live in the greatest country in the world."
The Hall of Fame recently voted Monday's act as one of the 100 classic moments in the history of the game. Monday, who spent 19 years in the major leagues and is a Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster, will be honored tonight with a video tribute at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
They'll replay a grainy videotape that was discovered in 1984 showing two people jumping over the railing in left field and spreading the American flag onto the Dodger Stadium turf. One man dousing the flag with lighter fluid. The other lighting a match. And Monday, playing for the Chicago Cubs, running in from center field, grabbing the flag and carrying it to safety.
They'll play Vin Scully's voice from the radio broadcast: "Wait a minute, there's an animal loose. Two of them! I'm not sure what he's doing out there. It looks like he's going to burn a flag. ...
"And Rick Monday runs and takes it away from him!"
And perhaps the crowd will duplicate the same reaction as 30 years ago: sitting in stunned silence, then standing, cheering and spontaneously singing God Bless America.