Former soldier asks for respect


John Davidson | The Chart

Missouri Southern athletes Tee Helsel, Tyler Burgess and Mitchell Osburn remove their hats and stand in silence during the National Anthem before their home opener on Feb 14 at the new baseball field.

February is here. College baseball is back. The National Anthem is performed and we all get our peanuts and Cracker Jacks. But one thing that still makes my blood boil is the disrespect by fans at the ballpark.

Baseball is steeped in tradition, as is our country. When I visited Baum Stadium to open the 2015 Razorback Baseball season this past weekend, I was met with awesome weather, the ever-popular calling of the hogs — and blatant disrespect.

When the announcer asked the audience to “please rise and remove your hat,” some folks clearly didn’t get the message. I realize we all have freedom to speak and express ourselves, and not taking your hat off may be your right. However, to me, standing up, taking off your hat and being silent for the 45 seconds the anthem takes isn’t asking too much.

I think it is important for us to reflect on how we got to where we are today. It is important for us to remember how much has changed even since my generation came of age.

Many of our youth have no idea what happened on 9/11. Some have heard about or seen file footage on CNN, but they really do not know how it felt to be an American when it happened. How have we gotten to a point where we are free to enjoy a baseball game?

This last week, I also read American Sniper. Most of you have seen the movie by now, but you may be surprised to find out there is a book. Chris Kyle is a navy SEAL who deployed to Iraq four times during various points in the war. While the book and TV discussions call him a former SEAL, just as for a marine or soldier, there is no former.

My favorite section in the book reads, “For some reason, a lot of people back home — not all people — didn’t accept that we were at war. They didn’t accept that war means death, violent death most times.”

Kyle was killed in 2013 after he returned home. The trial of his killer, also a veteran said to have been diagnosed with PTSD, started earlier this month.

The book American Sniper gives a very vivid image as to what life is like in war — and peace. Any service member, whether it be a grunt, jarhead, squid or flyboy who has seen war knows that the struggles Kyle and his wife Taya faced were very common. (Writer’s note — grunt, jarhead, squid or flyboy are terms used by service members. While there is always guff given to those in other branches, we use the terms with endearment and respect. I am a grunt, and give the guff, but also the respect to my brothers and sisters in arms.)

We as Americans must continue to keep in the forefront of our minds how we got to 2015. Yes, it has been a bloody struggle in some areas.

But I believe those struggles, and overcoming adversity, strengthen our resolve to continue on. We must never forget we are a country where war and tragedy have played a big role in our lives — and not only our lives, but those of several generations before us.

At the end of the day, I guess I have to accept there are those who are ignorant of the facts (or ignore them) about how we got here. Unfortunately, I also have to accept those who don’t take their caps off at baseball games to show respect.

Notice I said I have to accept it — that doesn’t mean it still doesn’t make my blood boil.