American Legion Department of New York Vice Commander Auseklis Krumins presents awards to Daniel Hayner and his Mechanicville, N.Y., High School football teammates. Krumins is assisted by Harvey McCagg, department legislative chairman. Photos by Dan O’Connor

Legion praises high school football player for honoring U.S. flag

The American Legion Department of New York honored a Mechanicville (N.Y.) High School football player and his teammates for their recent demonstration of patriotism that ensured a U.S. flag was aloft during the presentation of the national anthem.

As the visiting team last month at a Friday night game, Daniel Hayner and his Red Raider varsity teammates realized there wasn't a flag visible as players and fans stood for the "Star-Spangled Banner."

Hayner, a high school senior, rushed to the team’s equipment bag and returned with a flag that he proudly held in the middle of the field for the pregame ceremony.

“With an increasing number of professional athletes choosing to sit, kneel or otherwise protest and show contempt for the national anthem, it is refreshing and inspirational to see a young man like Daniel respect and embrace what our flag represents,” said Department of New York Commander John Sampson.

To acknowledge Hayner’s action, the Department of New York presented the gridiron standout a certificate of recognition and awarded the Mechanicville team a "Red, White and Blue Award," as well as donated to the school’s football program.

“People are serving and dying to protect our country and the flag,” Hayner said. “People are disrespecting the flag all the time, and it is not right. It needs to be respected and so do those who served our country.”

The awards, presented by Department Vice Commander Auseklis Krumins, recognize that the football players understand the principles on which America was founded and their willingness to show the spirit of Americanism. Hayner was joined on the field by fellow team co-captains Spencer Morgan, Andrew Clark and Bobby Lebrow, as well as coach Kevin Collins.

Mechanicville Principal Kevin Kolakowski called Hayner an outstanding young man who is proud of his upstate community and his country, as is evident by the American flag that flies from his truck.

Hayner said the team always carries the flag with them. "It’s a longtime school tradition that our team has kept,” he said.

“The Mechanicville community and our state can be proud of these young men whose actions exude patriotism and love of our country – qualities established as one of the Four Pillars on which The American Legion was founded nearly a century ago,” Sampson said.