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Standing for the National Anthem September 7, 2016

Posted by JP in Discussion.
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Okay, so I’ve already given my last word on the Kapernick sitting protest during the National Anthem, and this post is not intended to belabor to that which I have already given voice.

However, some soul searching, and research, about national respect and protests have given me some insight that I will blather on about in this post…

I grew up as an “Army brat”, my father served a tour in the US Marines and a 20 year career in the US Army so I was raised mainly on military bases until close to high school age. At 18 I enlisted in the Army and am myself a disabled Veteran. Suffice it to say that I have had a long military background.

As a child it was common practice for us to cease all activities during Reveille and Taps (as “Reveille” is played, all U.S. Army personnel are required to come to attention and present a salute, either to the flag or in the direction of the music if the flag is not visible). Those of us who were not ‘Army personnel’ (ie; military families) were taught by our parents to stop, stand, and face the flag or music, preferably with our hands over our hearts. Trips to the movie theater on base were much the same because prior to the movie starting the National Anthem was played and everyone in the theater stood up, hands over hearts, until the anthem finished.

The one thing that sticks with me to this day is that this activity of standing during the National Anthem was never about showing pride in, or respect to, our flag or the anthem; it was, and is, about showing respect to our great Nation, for which the flag and anthem are simply representations.

Let me share what Mr. Kapernick said about his protest:

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.  To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

 I suppose that this is what really irks me about the whole thing; Mr. Kapernick is allowed to protest as he sees fit as long as it does not harm others, however, his freedom to protest is given to him by the very nation (and those that defend it) which he is disrespecting. I honestly do not think he understands exactly what he is disrespecting. It is not the flag, or the anthem. It is the Nation that provides him the freedom he seemingly takes for granted.

I envision a parent who has toiled arduously to earn money to buy food, labored over a hot stove, after working all day, to prepare that food, and then lovingly set it in front of their child, only to have that child spit on it and push it away simply because it isn’t what he wanted for dinner.

So while I apparently take umbrage at Mr. Kapernick’s insult to the Nation I have willingly and proudly served (yes, I feel a bit personally insulted)  I must remind myself that people get to decide, whether to stand still, keep walking, or sit. They can sing, even if they can’t hit any of the notes, or be quiet. They can put their hands over their hearts, or let their arms hang loosely. They can remove their hats or leave them on. They can cheer proudly, or even jeer.  That’s what is so great about America. You get to choose. No one can order patriotism. You can’t force people to have pride.

FREEDOM IS NOT FREE

I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze
A young Marine saluted it, and then
He stood at ease.

I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud
With hair cut square and eyes alert
He’d stand out in any crowd.

I thought, how many men like him
Had fallen through the years?
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers’ tears?

How many Pilots’ planes shot down?
How many foxholes were soldiers’ graves?
No, Freedom is not free.

I heard the sound of taps one night,
When everything was still.
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.

I wondered just how many times
That taps had meant “Amen”
When a flag had draped a coffin
of a brother or a friend.

I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.

I thought about a graveyard
at the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No, Freedom isn’t free!!
Copyright 1981 by Kelly Strong

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