An Illinois high school football team is in the spotlight for how it handled the national anthem at its homecoming game.
While many NFL players take a knee on the field, Mascoutah High School put on a powerful display of patriotism and gratitude.
First, an American flag was raised by crane for everyone to see.
As the players huddled before the game, many special guests surrounded the students.
Those guests included police officers, military veterans, and firefighters, according to the Belleville News-Democrat:
After the pregame talk, the players headed out to field hand-in-hand with the veterans and first responders:
When it came time for the national anthem, every player stood in reverence and respect:
However, this reportedly wasn’t about politics. The moving tribute to those who put themselves in the line-of-fire was discussed before 200 NFL players took a knee last Sunday.
KMOV reported that:
School leaders and the team discussed, weeks before the Jason Stockley verdict and long before athletes decided to take a knee, how to impact their community during homecoming.
“I think it is vital to strengthening relationships between police and community because you can’t just show up when a crime is being committed,” said Illinois State Trooper Calvin Dye, Jr.
The show of solidarity continued until all stood together during the band’s playing of the national anthem.
“We respect our first responders. We respect our military. This is a military town. I think it was planned a while back. It is just showing the relationship we have,” said school supporter Brian Uhl.
Josh Lee, who coaches the team, explained a bit more behind the reason the players took such a stand.
“We make a point here with the kids about being a part of something bigger than themselves and this is a good platform. They just want to shed a positive light on people who do positive things in our community,” Lee said.
The school’s approach to the anthem sends out a unifying message when NFL protests are at an all-time high. It’s a message everyone should be able to get behind.