On this day, the fifteenth anniversary of 9-11, I am proud to see that all of our Cincinnati Bengals stood for our national anthem, that almost every one removed their head coverings and placed their hand over their hearts, and not one of them chose to sit on the bench or take a knee. I hope these young men understand that because of this flag and the people who have died to protect it, we have the right to express our opinions freely. Yes, even if it means that entitled young men who are barely into double digits, make millions of dollars to play a game and who think that they know what it means to be oppressed can show disrespect to the flag and our country and make an ass out of themselves in front of millions of their fellow countrymen. What I hope they realize is that America is a melting pot, not a buffet; that being American trumps being black or white, Democrat or Republican, Christian, Muslim, Jew or atheist. We all are American and bring our own flavor and contribution. Because we are American we all have the right to express our individual cultures, religions, and opinions, but we cannot forget what has conferred this right upon us.
Fifteen years ago on a Tuesday two planes flew into the twin towers of the World Trade Center and changed our lives forever. On that following weekend, my dog training club, Queen City Dog Training, had planned to hold their annual fall agility trial at Winton Woods. Just a few days after the tragedy, we were all shaken, nothing seemed certain, and we were not sure if we should hold the trial or not. Planes were not flying and one of our judges was therefore not able to make it. But our trial committee decided to go ahead and proceed; a local judge was substituted, and we all showed up, somewhat subdued and wondering if maybe this was the last trial any of us would be able to enter for a while- because our whole world had tilted on its axis and we didn't know if anything would ever be normal again. On that Saturday morning, we raised the flag and sang the national anthem before the first dog came to the line and there was not a dry eye in the house. And then we ran our dogs and for a few minutes all was right with the world and we felt free again. It was a small thing, but we all felt as though we could not allow terrorists to take away our everyday lives and freedoms, and I know none of us took for granted the privilege to be there that day when so many were never coming home again.
Our club still displays a flag- two, actually, one in each separate area of our wonderful training building; and at the start of every trial that I have been to we still play the national anthem. It always reminds me of that day and I will never take for granted the opportunity to do so again. I hope these young men of the NFL, most of whom were children and many of whom were too young to really remember, never have to learn this lesson the way that we did that day.