First Black Medal Of Honor Recipient's Act of 'Defiance': He Never Let The Flag Touch The Ground

As we reported previously, Sunday afternoon's round of NFL games included players from nearly every team joining the "take a knee" protest during the National Anthem, while many others locked arms in solidarity with players who decided to take a knee, or - in the case of the Pittsburg Steelers - remained in the locker room, and thus weren't visible to the public. Notably, Steeler and ex-Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva seemed to have defied the team decision to opt out of the anthem by waiting in the locker room (with the exception of head coach Mike Tomlin, who stood on the field). Villaneuva, who served three tours in Afghanistan, stood visibly outside the tunnel with his hand over his heart during the The Star-Spangled Banner.

In Philadelphia, Eagles and Giants players and coaches locked arms as a massive American flag was raised over the field and military jets performed a flyover. A few players raised fists or knelt, according to the New York Times. Several players on the Bills and the Broncos also took a knee, as well as players from both teams in the Patriots vs. Texans game. At least eight Detroit Lions knelt during the anthem which ended with singer Rico LaVelle kneeling with his fist in the air upon closing the national anthem. Across the league, well over 100 players took part in the anthem protest, and the controversy is now impacting other sports as well, including the NBA and MLB.

With Trump's Sunday morning tweets fueling the controversy further, and with teams having to decide how to approach the issue, it would be helpful if Americans were reminded of the first black man in history to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. Whereas players across the NFL are now either defiantly taking a knee or opting out of respectfully commemorating the flag by hiding in the locker room, ironically, the first African-American Medal of Honor recipient nearly made the ultimate sacrifice out of his own personal respect for the flag and all that it represents. 

Sergeant William H. Carney received the nation's highest honor during the Civil War for rescuing the American flag and carrying it reverently in the midst of impossible odds while being shot multiple times by the enemy. His act of 'defiance' while an entire Confederate battalion mowed down his fellow Union soldiers consisted in not letting the flag touch the ground - this, even after being wounded in the head.

"As the color-bearer became disabled I threw away my gun and seized the colors [the flag]," his account of the Battle of Fort Wagner states. "When we finally reached [my regiment] the men cheered me and the flag. My reply was, ‘Boys, the old flag never touched the ground.'"

Taking bullets for the flag, rather than a knee - Sergeant William H. Carney, the first black man to win the Congressional Medal of Honor, for refusing to allow the flag to touch the ground. Source: US Army archival photo

This act, acknowledged to be one of the most heroic deeds of the Civil War, is recorded in State documents and in the detailed account written by Sergeant Carney. The significance is summarized as follows:

In 1863 William H. Carney entered the army and was assigned to Company C of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, the first regiment composed of black men in the state. They were most renowned for their participation in the battle at Battery Wagner where, through their bravery and sacrifice, they forever silenced the predication that the black men would not fight. It was at this siege on July 18, 1863 that Color-Sergeant William H. Carney performed a brave deed which earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor for most distinguished gallantry in action.

Here, in part, is his account of the siege from The History of New Bedford and Its Vicinity, 1620-1892:

". . .We were all ready for the charge, and the regiment started to its feet, the charge being fairly commenced. We had got but a short distance when we were opened upon with musketry, shell, grape shot and canister, which mowed down our men right and left. As the color-bearer became disabled I threw away my gun and seized the colors, making my way to the head of the column. . . In less than 20 minutes I found myself alone, struggling upon the ramparts, while the dead and wounded were all around me, lying one upon another. Here I said, ‘I cannot go into the battery alone,' and so I halted and knelt down, holding the flag in my hand. While there, the muskets, balls and grape-shots were flying all around me, and as they struck, the sand would fly in my face."

The Storming of Fort Wagner by the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, Morris Island, Charleston, S.C., July 18, 1863.

"I knew my position was a critical one, and I began to watch to see if I would be left alone. Discovering that the forces had renewed their attack farther to the right, and the enemy's attention being drawn thither, I turned and discovered a battalion of men coming towards me on the ramparts of Wagner. They proceeded until they were in front of me, and I raised my flag and started to join them, when from the light of the cannon discharged on the battery, I saw that they were my enemies. I wound the colors round the staff and made my way down the parapet in to the ditch, which was without water when I crossed it before, but now was filled with water that came up to my waist.


Out of the number that came up with me there was now no man moving erect, save myself, although they were not all dead but wounded. In rising to see if I could determine my course to the rear, the bullet I now carry in my body came whizzing like a mosquito, and I was shot. Not being prostrated by the shot, I continued my course, yet had not gone far before I was struck by a second shot.


Soon after I saw a man coming towards me, and then within halting distance I asked him who he was. He replied, ‘I belong to the One Hundredth New York,' and then inquired if I were wounded. Upon replying in the affirmative, he came to my assistance and helped me to the rear. ‘Now then,' said he, ‘let me take the colors and carry them for you.' My reply was that I would not give them to anyone else unless he belonged to the Fifty-Fourth Regiment. So we passed on , but we did not go far before I was wounded in the head.


We came at length within hailing distance of the rear guard, who caused us to halt, and upon asking who we were, and finding I was wounded, took us to the rear and through the guard. An officer came, and taking my name and regiment, put us in charge of the hospital corps, telling them to find my regiment. When we finally reached the latter the men cheered me and the flag. My reply was, ‘Boys, the old flag never touched the ground.'

It is then said that he fell to the ground in a dead faint, weak from the wounds that he had received."

The Robert Gould Shaw Memorial

In May, 1900, Carney became the first African-American to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. Carney's brave deed is depicted on the Saint-Gaudens Monument in Boston Common. The rescued flag is enshrined in Memorial Hall, Boston. Carney survived his severe wounds and lived until 1908. 

As the trend of multi-millionaire celebrity athletes 'defiantly' opting out of a minimal symbolic act of respect for the flag continues, remember the example of Sgt. Carney, who even after being shot multiple times defiantly and triumphantly raised the American flag high.


Son of Loki wee-weed up Sun, 09/24/2017 - 21:13 Permalink

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I am looking forward to Dan Bell doing the “Dead NFL Stadium” series on Yootoob.   Dan now does the “Dead Mall” series showing Ghost Mall after Ghost Mall that went belly up due to mismanagement, bad location, poor economy or simply broke American consumers.   The “Dead NFL” series can detail the empty football stadiums where millionaire athletes once played sports instead of displaying their hatred for the nation that made them millionaires.   The “Dead NFL” series will be a joy to watch.…

In reply to by wee-weed up

ACP JackT Sun, 09/24/2017 - 22:41 Permalink

Trump needs to quadruple down and tweet this NFL crimes site. Some interesting facts: Kaeperdick was fined $10k for wearing the wrong headphones on game day, no one said squat. Cowboys were threatened with fines if they wore 9/11 rememberance shoes on game day, no one said squat.Oh but disrespecting the country, that's totally fine. NFL, go to hell.Bye, Felicia.

In reply to by JackT

Billy the Poet ACP Sun, 09/24/2017 - 22:45 Permalink

Did this black life matter? Did anyone take a knee?  Black Confederate flag supporter dies in crash after ‘angry’ exchange By Associated Press July 20, 2015 JACKSON, Miss. — A black Mississippi man who often dressed in Confederate regalia to support the state flag has died in a one-car accident. The Highway Patrol says 49-year-old Anthony Hervey was killed Sunday when the 2005 Ford Explorer he was driving left the roadway and overturned on Mississippi Highway 6 in Lafayette County. A passenger in Hervey’s car, Arlene Barnum, tells The Associated Press that Hervey swerved and crashed after another vehicle carrying four or five young black men pulled up alongside them, yelling and looking angry. Barnum said Hervey yelled something back at the other vehicle before losing control and crashing. “It spun like crazy and we flipped, flipped, flipped. It was awful,” she said. She said she gave that account to a Mississippi state trooper when she was taken to a hospital after the accident. Barnum said she and Hervey had been returning home Sunday from Birmingham, Alabama, where they attended a Saturday rally to save the Linn Park Confederate Monument. City leaders there recently voted to remove the memorial from the park. Barnum said they were in her SUV, which was not displaying any Confederate flags or stickers. She said she had no idea whether they had been followed from Birmingham. Hervey, of Oxford, has drawn attention over the years for opposing efforts to change the flag. He said he dressed in Rebel soldier garb to honor blacks who served with the Confederacy during the Civil War. He was often seen often wearing the Confederate uniform and waving a Rebel flag on the Oxford square. In an interview with the Associated Press in 2001 after a new state flag design was defeated, Hervey said Mississippians’ support of the flag with a Confederate battle emblem in the corner is akin to “standing up for home.” “This is not racism. This is my heritage,” Hervey said.…

In reply to by ACP

dirtscratcher nmewn Sun, 09/24/2017 - 21:39 Permalink

Hopefully this disgraceful behavior will have the same result as when the Dixie Chicks flapped their gums and offended half of America. "The comments at the concert beginning a Dixie Chicks world tour sparked off possibly the biggest black balling in the history of American music. Spoken 10 days before the beginning of the Iraq War, the backlash took the Dixie Chicks from the biggest concert draw in country music to relative obscurity in country music in a matter of weeks.............Radio stations who played any Dixie Chicks songs were immediately bombarded with phone calls and emails blasting the station and threats of boycotts if they continued. Even radio DJ’s and programmers who sympathized with the Dixie Chicks were forced to stop playing them from the simple logistics nightmare the boycott created. Some DJ’s who played the Dixie Chicks were fired............Dixie Chicks CD’s were rounded up, and in one famous incident were run over by a bulldozer. Concerts were canceled in the US as the Dixie Chicks couldn’t sell tickets, and rival concerts were set up that would take Dixie Chicks tickets in exchange. The Dixie Chicks lost their sponsor Lipton, and The Red Cross denied a million dollar endorsement from the band, fearing it would draw the ire of the boycott. The Dixie Chicks also received hundreds of death threats from the incident."---…

In reply to by nmewn

Yog Soggoth nmewn Sun, 09/24/2017 - 22:56 Permalink

I'm still trying to figure out who wrote the script. Francis Bacon was unavailable at the time, so who was it? Not saying that it did not happen, just looking at the words. I agree that even a few years ago this would not happen en masse. There are still many black folk alive today that would not let the flag down, and that is the sad part because these guys let everyone down for what reason exactly? Someone explain it to me.

In reply to by nmewn

Conscious Reviver Yog Soggoth Mon, 09/25/2017 - 20:27 Permalink

Re.  Why - Look at the Dixie Chicks story above.This is to marginalize and discredit anyone who won't get on board and wave that flag high when the new war that our NeoCon owners are instigating gets going.I know, I know the players are are all about BLM or they don't even know what, but it's going to be turned around to get everyone supporting war or being ostracized. Trump has been told to say he wants military parades in Washington. Fascism here we come.War for Banksters and Greater Israel here we go. I hope some of us survive.

In reply to by Yog Soggoth

curbjob wee-weed up Sun, 09/24/2017 - 21:47 Permalink

Well it's a lovely story and all ...worth mentioning that it took the descendants of Sergeant William H. Carney another  100  years to gain civil rights and not by picking up the flag nor winning medals. Ffwd 150 years and there's a good chance the good sergeant would be sharing positions with Isis in Syria.Exceptional . 

In reply to by wee-weed up

navy62802 Sun, 09/24/2017 - 21:25 Permalink

What you are witnessing is an anti-America campaign funded by George Soros through his spider web of global non-governmental organizations and charities. This campaign is conducted to promote Communism, and his organizations have successfully conducted psychological operations against the United States. During the Red Scare, we had several investigations into the influence of communists on the American public. This investigation looked at the tactics, techniques and procedures used by communists to infiltrate American society. Renee Wormser put these findings into writing, and I recommend his work for all readers ...… also recommend the following:(1) Nugan-Hand Bank -…) BCCI -…

Unknown Poster Sun, 09/24/2017 - 21:21 Permalink

The whole take aknee thing is stupid. Let the players  triple down on idiocy. People at the Iwo Jima memorial do not like oppressive governments. Potential allies don't need a kick in the nuts. Oh well, social just us worriers.

nmewn Sun, 09/24/2017 - 21:23 Permalink

Ya'll ever notice that after a hurricane theres always a entire wall of work boots left untouched in their boxes but all the Air Jordans/Nikes have been looted? Yeah, nations decline like that too ;-)

XqWretch Sun, 09/24/2017 - 21:24 Permalink

Am I the only one who couldn't care less about this bullshit? Who gives a fuck what these clowns do before they play their game with their balls. And who gives a shit about the flag as well? It's a piece of cloth ffs. It's not like we have any of the freedoms it used to represent anyways. Fuck the flag, fuck the NFL, and fuck Trump as well. How about you do something useful rather than worry about this nonsense...?

Able Ape XqWretch Sun, 09/24/2017 - 21:35 Permalink

Amen, AMen, AMEn, AMEN to that!  While we're at it, let the nukes fly in the Northern Hemisphere, maybe the Southern Hemisphere can do a better job... I am so sick of this NK shit - just leave them alone and all will be fine, but NO, the assholes in DC can't resist fanning the flames...

In reply to by XqWretch

Oldwood XqWretch Sun, 09/24/2017 - 22:44 Permalink

Look around.Everything that makes our world today is the result of similar "little" things. It is the drip drip drip that sinks the ship. Lets not pretend it doesn't matter, even though at this late date it really doesn't matter, because people like you have been saying "who gives a shit?" for many decades. By the time it's finally something you do give a shit about, it won't matter to anyone else either.Trump has simply put a voice to the endless grind downwards that we all see before our eyes. Trump is attempting to hold his popular support by publicly illustrating how ridiculous it all is ad how much (as you point out) that we have already lost.

In reply to by XqWretch

shimmy Sun, 09/24/2017 - 21:37 Permalink

This guy and other blacks who actually fought for their freedom and getting rights for future generations of blacks would be absolutely sickened by these athlete clowns.