President Donald Trump, at a rally in Ohio on Monday, praised two high school football players who were temporarily suspended for flying flags at a game on Sept. 11 in honor of law enforcement and first responders who died on 9/11.
Trump, who throughout his term has expressed strong support for law enforcement, invited Brady Williams and Jarad Bentley, seniors at Little Miami High School, to join him on stage in Swanton, as the crowd cheered.
The president called the teens “good looking men” and said, “I want to congratulate you, you’re going to become famous.”
“They’re going to go to Hollywood, they’re going to become movie actors,” he said, adding as they left the stage that they’re “good guys” as the crowd chanted “USA! USA!”
Williams and Bentley made headlines when they carried Thin Blue Line and Thin Red Line flags onto the field at a football game in memory of law enforcement officers and first responders who died when the World Trade Center towers collapsed in the 9/11 terror attacks. Of the 2,977 victims killed in the attacks, 412 were emergency workers responding to the scene.
Bentley is the son of a fireman, while Williams is the son of a Sheriff’s deputy. The two were denied permission to display the flags, but they flew them anyway, with school superintendent Gregory Power telling WKRC-TV that he had concerns the move may have been interpreted as a political statement and he didn’t want to set a precedent.
“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 maybe many other families may not agree with from a political perspective,” Power said, adding that only the school flag and the American flag are permitted at school events.
Williams was asked by a WKRC-TV reporter whether he was “trying to make some kind of a political statement here?”
“Not at all. I was just doing it to honor the people that lost their lives 19 years ago,” Williams replied.
Bentley told the station that, “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.”
After the two flew the flags on the field, they were suspended from the football team but later reinstated after an investigation by school authorities concluded the move wasn’t political in nature.
“The results show that there were no political motivations behind this display of support for first responders on 9/11, but there were stances of insubordination,” said president of Little Miami Local Schools Board of Education, Bobbie Grice, in a statement to Fox 19.
The school district told Fox 19 in a statement that, “the district enjoys an outstanding relationship with our local police and fire agencies. In fact, the Patriot Night program Friday night featured a script recognizing first responders, information about what happened on 9/11, a poem celebrating those who sacrificed their lives, and a remembrance ceremony with a moment of silence.”
“We regret that such a moment of solemnity was somehow lost in this event,” the statement said.