Fact Check: Did the Women’s National Soccer Team disrespect a World War II vet or the flag?

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EAST HARTFORD, CT – Between July 5th and 6th, a myriad of posts on social media and some news outlets were alleging that the U.S. women’s national soccer team intentionally disrespected either a 98-year-old World War 2 veteran or the American flag – via turning their backs on one or the other.

Depending on which report or social media post one encountered, the spin would either reflect that players disrespected the veteran by turning away from him, while other posts and reports proclaimed that members of the soccer team disrespected the American flag during the national anthem by not facing the flag.

However, according to reports and official statements from the US women’s national soccer team, there was no implied disrespect to either the American flag or the World War 2 veteran during his rendition of the national anthem by way of him playing the harmonica.

Prior to the start of the July 5th soccer game that took place at the Pratt & Whitney Stadium in East Hartford, 98-year-old World War II veteran Pete DuPré played the national anthem on his harmonica.

Overall, it was a splendid rendition and certainly a sight to see.

But when ESPN shared footage from DuPré’s rendition of the national anthem, there were periods in which the camera was panning across the players lined up on the field which showed some players facing one direction and other players facing another direction.

This in turn created speculation that perhaps there were those on the field that had intentionally turned their back on the World War Two veteran as he played the national anthem on his harmonica, treating it as disrespecting the veteran.

Other outlets and online posts framed the scenario as some players from the team were intentionally disrespecting the flag because they were not facing the flag while DuPré played the national anthem.

But the reality of the situation is that none of the aforementioned was any sort of intended display of disrespect or even protest, as some players just wanted to face the flag during the national anthem while other players simply faced DuPré as he played the national anthem.

The intent is what’s most important in this matter: no players have come forward alleging that they were doing anything to either disrespect or protest the flag or the veteran that so graciously played the national anthem prior to their July 5th game.

There’s even video of members of the US women’s national soccer team coming up to DuPré after the game to sign a soccer ball and personally greet and thank him.

Yet the prevailing issue in all of this non-controversy is that while some online digested the national anthem debacle as an affront toward the World War Two veteran, you had other personalities online framing it as those facing DuPré during the national anthem were disrespecting the American flag.

Richard Grenell, former U.S. Ambassador to Germany from 2018-2020 and who briefly served as the Acting Director of National Intelligence in 2020, was among those who framed the scenario as the players disrespecting the American flag during the national anthem.

But again, those who weren’t facing the American flag were facing DuPré as he played the national anthem – and none of the players have come forward proclaiming that they were doing some sort of a protest or signaling disdain toward the flag during the anthem.

The Post Millennial was also caught in the editorial grift – as they first reported the story on Twitter with the following caption:

“Disgraceful behaviour [sic] from some members of the US womens’ [sic] soccer team as they turn their backs while 98-year-old World War II veteran Pete DuPré played the National Anthem on his harmonica.”

When U.S. women’s soccer team player Carli Lloyd retweeted the Post Millennial’s video, saying “we turned because we faced the flag,” the outlet responded with:

“Our article has been updated to include your clarification and to specify who was turned away from the flag.”

Overall, it seems that the players on the U.S. women’s soccer team were either facing the veteran as he played the anthem or faced the American flag as the anthem was played – but none of the players were actively trying to be disrespectful to either of the two in the process.

Now, it’s not to say some members of the U.S women’s national soccer team haven’t protested the national anthem in the past – in fact some players did during the national anthem at a game in Europe back in November of 2020

During the November 27th, 2020 game against the Netherlands, members of the team wore BLM jackets and nine of the 11 players on the field kneeled during the playing of the national anthem.

And the team got a reasonable amount of blowback for the stunt – and by February of 2021, team member Crystal Dunn said that the players are “past the protesting phase” when it comes to players protesting in any manner during the anthem. 

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Now, in terms of someone actually snubbing the national anthem, Law Enforcement Today shared an editorial about Olympic athlete Gwen Berry’s antics during the playing of the national anthem. 

Here’s that previous editorial by Law Enforcement Today’s Pat Droney. 

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The following contains editorial content written by a retired Chief of Police and current staff writer for Law Enforcement Today. 

EUGENE, OR- Things are starting to make a lot of sense. The leftist anti-American activist who unfortunately is headed to the Tokyo Summer Olympics has been sponsored since last September by a leftist, anti-police group Color of Change.

Of course the anti-police movement blends in nicely with those who hate our country and despise our flag.

If you’re not familiar, something named Gwen Berry, who apparently throws hammers for a living decided to make a spectacle of herself after she finished a measly third during the US Olympic trials last week.

During the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner, Berry decided to show up her teammates by turning sideways to face the stands, according to the New York Post.

The two superior hammer throwers, first and second place athletes DeAnna Price and Brooke Anderson respectively showed respect to our flag and those who have died to defend it by standing and placing their hands over their hearts, ESPN reported.

Sadly, by virtue of her third-place finish, Barry will represent the country that has so oppressed her that she made the Olympic team in Tokyo.

As if the sideshow of turning sideways from the flag weren’t enough, the self-aggrandizing Barry then held up a shirt reading “Activist Athlete” and put it over her face, the Post said.

Berry of course made it about her, claiming she was “set up,” that the anthem was played purposely as she stepped on the podium.

“I feel like it was a set-up, and they did it on purpose,” the spoiled millennial whined afterward.

“I was pissed, to be honest,” Berry, who raised a fist on the podium at the Pan Am Games two years ago said.

“They had enough opportunities to play the National Anthem before we got up there.”

See, this spoiled brat thinks it’s all about her.

According to Susan Hazzard, USA Track and Field spokesperson, she said the anthem is scheduled at specific times, scheduled in advance.

“The national anthem was scheduled to play at 5:20 p.m. today,” she said. “We didn’t wait until the athletes were on the podium for the hammer throw awards. The national anthem is played every day according to a previously published schedule.”

So much for the little temper tantrum.

Berry claims they were told the anthem would play before they walked out.

“They said they were going to play it before we walked out, then they played it when we were out there,” she said.

“But I don’t really want to talk about the anthem because that’s not important. The anthem doesn’t speak for me, it never has.”

“My purpose and my mission is bigger than sports. I’m here to represent those…who died due to systemic racism. That’s the important part. That’s why I’m going. That’s why I’m here today,” she said.

Berry’s schtick might just be a publicity stunt as old pictures of her from 2015 show her proudly holding the American flag. That was probably before she got down with the revolution. The flag (and the anthem) appeared to “speak for” her back then.

After Berry’s stunt at the Pan Am Games in 2019, she was sanctioned by USA Track and Field after the move, sparked outrage with her latest stunt, including among a number of lawmakers and other Americans who called for her ouster from the U.S. Olympic team.

Military veteran and current House Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) told Fox News:

“The entire point of the Olympic team is to represent the United States of America. That should be the bare minimum requirement. That you believe in the country you’re representing,” he said.

Yeonmi Park, a human rights activist who escaped North Korean oppression also slammed Berry, saying she doesn’t know how good she has it in the United States.

“The fact that she’s complaining about oppression and systemic racism—she does not understand that she’s so privileged,” she told Fox & Friends.

“If she was in North Korea, not only herself will be executed, eight generations of her family can be sent to political prison camp and execution,” she continued.

Former Olympic medal winner formerly known as Bruce Jenner, now Caitlyn Jenner also slammed Berry, calling the move “disgusting.”

Of course, not everyone was upset with Berry’s act. Color of Change applauded her for “leadership” on the podium, as reported by Fox News.

“We’re proud to sponsor [Berry], to have negotiated a sponsorship with @PUMA and to continue to push corporations to support black athletes who speak out for our communities. Grateful for Gwen’s leadership today and every day,” they said in a tweet.

Fox noted the leftist organization is a strong proponent for defunding the police.

In June 2020, the organization issued a press release in response to a vote by the Minneapolis City Council to abolish the city’s police department after Floyd’s death in police custody, saying, “Policing is a violent institution that must end.”

“We imagine a country where there is enough money to educate our children, care for our sick, and feed those who are financially unstable,” said organization president Rashad Robinson. “Defunding the police allows for this vision.”

“This is not a time for tweaking or tinkering—it’s a time to start over,” he wrote. “Minneapolis has taken the first step towards remaking public safety in a way that protects black lives and invests in black and brown communities. We hope cities across the country follow.”

Given the explosion in crime in Minneapolis and across America, that statement hasn’t aged well.

Fox News reported the organization currently has active defund the police petitions circulating both nationally and locally. Fox said the organization wouldn’t confirm or deny whether Berry supported their efforts to defund police.

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