Children Shall Lead

Children Shall Lead
Two young fans held their hands on their hearts while helping support the American Flag during the National Anthem before the KU football game against TCU inside David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

(Editor’s Note: On May 24, I submitted this story, the day George Floyd was murdered. Things have dramatically changed since. I pray for the better. KU held this story as they formulated their statement on racial inequality. On June 9, it appeared on the KU web site. I wrote about children and their future roles based on the COVID-19 pandemic. I wanted it to be uplifting. I still believe children will lead us. As we confront our nation’s racial divide, we need a better understanding that all men and women are created equal. As Nelson Mandela said, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love.” I continue to pray that children will help lead us to that understanding. Thank you.)

In our new world, the front line troops in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic are not soldiers. Instead, weary doctors, nurses and researchers battle against an enemy they cannot see in a race against time and the demands of constitutional rights. Our foe wreaks havoc on young, old and everyone in between in numbers that continue to stagger. Predictions of another wave of the virus leave people wondering whether there will ever be an end.

We celebrate graduations in a virtual world and pray for the future of our young ones even as unemployment totals mount. A recent article noted that our nation’s falling birthrate is likely to decline even further as parents worry about what kind of world would confront their newborns. It can all seem so grim.

I ask you to look at the faces of this patriotic boy and girl holding the American Flag during the National Anthem before a KU football game in October 2018. With hands over their hearts, how can I fear or be worried? The two boys tenaciously hanging from the outfield fence during a KU softball game from April 2018, reminds me that grit and determination will again win the day.

The children in the two photographs might not help us win the battle against this virus. Others who grew up in times of terror and fear following 9/11 will. During the tumult of the Vietnam War, children born then later raced headlong into the falling Twin Towers in 2001, proving our nation’s will would not be broken.

Currently, we celebrate drive-by-birthdays. I’d be thrilled should my grandchildren and others someday realize drive-by-shootings are no longer a grave threat. I hope Jake and Luke play on sports teams where they do not see color but only their friend the shortstop, the forward, goalie or linebacker. 

Taking these photographs, I came away thankful. Looking at them today fills me with faith to not let times of crisis rule. Children have been, are and will be our hope. It will take time and faith, but children will grow in their resolve and lead us. 

Abraham Lincoln spoke of such resolve in his astounding Gettysburg Address during the dedication in 1863 of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery on what was once Pennsylvania battleground during the Civil War. Today, we are engaged in an epic struggle on many fronts. Memorials will be dedicated in the coming years. Speeches will be made. None will ever come close to the 271 words spoken by Lincoln.

He closed proclaiming, “that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Children Shall Lead
Two 11-year-old boys kept track of the action inside Arrocha Ballpark by hanging from the center field fence as the KU softball team played Texas Tech.

Jeff Jacobsen has photographed practically every big event the sports world has to offer during a professional career that spans over 54 years. Jacobsen has seen things up close that only a diehard sports fan could in their dreams. His work for the Topeka Capital-Journal, Arizona Republic, Kansas Athletics, Inc., many national publications and now Action Images Photography, Inc., cemented his reputation as one of the nation’s finest sports photographers.

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