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COLUMN: Renewing my faith in America, one pitch at a time

By Dan Kontos

Even for a happy warrior like myself, I understand why many of my fellow Americans are increasingly feeling down in the dumps, and general malaise is spreading across the land.

It’s hard to stay optimistic for those common-sense individuals who are even casual observers of the news.

The worst inflation in 40 years, wide open borders, food shortages, supply chain issues of all types, grooming of our children, the weaponization of law enforcement, being labeled domestic terrorists for speaking out at the school board, blackouts, out-of-control crime, Americans still trapped in Afghanistan, CRT in our classrooms, lies about the COVID vaccine, useless masks, and disastrous shutdowns, all while the earth is perpetually on the brink of destruction in 10 to 12 years due to the new ice age, or global warming, or whatever it is today.

It’s hard to recognize the place anymore.

Every time you turn around, someone is trying to tell you that up is down, and right is wrong, whether it’s self-serving politicians or their army of useful idiots. Never taking responsibility for their malfeasance, shielded by big media and big tech, without an ounce of shame, dignity, or honor. They lie to your face because they think you are stupid.

And don’t you dare to speak out. If you don’t toe the official party line and whatever the new current thing is, you will be branded, canceled, shouted down, and even investigated.

You are only allowed to regurgitate the talking points from the Commissariat of Approved Thought.

Keep your head down, keep your mouth shut, and don’t look up.

Uh, no. I’ll take a hard pass on all of that, and when you tell me to be quiet, I’ll shout it even louder. How can that be? Because I’m optimistic for America. We are waking up to the lunacy and evil in the world, and can still hang on to our core American values. Need proof?

Last week was the 21st anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. How did I spend my Sunday afternoon? Was I hiding in my basement? Updating my Facebook profile picture with the latest thing? Changing out my face diaper? No, I was at the Battle of the Badges.

What is the Battle of the Badges? I’m not surprised that you’ve never heard of it.

It was the second annual softball game between the Plover Police Department and the Plover Fire Department. Unlike the Guns N’ Hoses charity softball game, this was a quiet affair. The intent was to simply have a fun gathering of families to spend the day together, play some semi-competitive ball, and celebrate America. It worked.

With the support of the Plover-Whiting Youth Athletics, this unofficial gathering was held in a beautiful setting. Bolstered with burgers, brats, and other goodies, family and friends of these two organizations assembled their forces to duke it out, with plenty of handshakes, hugs, and lots of good-natured kidding.

The game started with a gathering behind home plate with a moment of silence in honor of 9/11, followed by encouraging words from the village administrator expressing his appreciation for all these two organizations do for the community. Then, after the two teams were introduced, under the shadow of a giant American flag, the National Anthem loudly and unapologetically played over the loudspeakers.

While children played and spectators cheered the action on, relationships were strengthened, commonalities were reinforced, and for a few hours, the stressors of the world were forgotten.

While this was not intended to be a secret, there was no press. No public. No advertising. It was simply a family-friendly event that reaffirmed their mutual admiration and respect for each other. There was no ulterior motive. No hidden agenda. Just a celebration of American life, and a reminder of just how good we have it.

While the play on the field may not make any national highlight reels, and the umpires were all signed up for post-game eye exams, it was an absolute success. The heroes behind the badges were able to let their guard down for a short while and enjoy some stress-free comradery.

As I watched from my VIP observation point, responsibly sipping on my adult beverage, I could not help but smile and think about how great it was to be able to experience this enjoyable day.

I knew that afternoon that I had to share it with you. This was real America, and it made me so proud.

By the way, the fire department won the game, and handily. That ties it up at one game apiece.

I can’t wait for the third annual contest next year.

So, with that, let’s meet in the opinion section to talk about all of it, boldly, honestly, and with a healthy respect for our nation and for each other. Never let them tell you that this isn’t the absolute greatest nation on earth, because it is. Until next time, God bless.

Dan Kontos is a columnist for the Metro Wire who chooses his own topics. He lives with his family in Whiting. 

We are seeking a liberal columnist. Anyone with interest should email [email protected]