The Flag and the Anthem: One Perspective

i try to stay away from political posts. i have found reactions from all political positions twist my meanings and don’t really think about what i am trying to convey. My posts seem to create more hate and discontent, not less as i intended. Not worth it. As i have attested many times, i have friends on both ends of the political spectrum, and i don’t wish to offend them by writing something they will misinterpret through their political filters.

i don’t consider this a political post.

i remain amazed at the vitriol spewed by the manufactured hatred because one guy, a once good but not particularly great NFL quarterback kneeled during the national anthem and the raising of the United States Flag before the beginning of a football game.

People have drawn their lines in the sand, taken up their weapons, and are throwing their rocks in all directions. For goodness sake, professional football players are taking political stances and people are paying attention. Professional football players should be heeded by what they do on the football field, not after, before, or in-between when they are off the field, not even all of those stupid little actions they take to promote themselves (not the team) after making a good play. If they want to make a gesture, quit the high-paying game and join the military. We could use you in combat.

Now, we have those who do not consider any gestures other than their own reacting, taking sides, and blowing smoke, most without a clue.

Have at it. i’ll sit this one out.

But that’s an aside.

My concern is i just don’t understand.

Colin Kaepernick and everyone else who has taken up arms on either side have freedom of speech and the right to protest. All of you have that right because this country does not pay allegiance to any person, any king, queen, emperor, dictator, or even the government itself, including the president. And that right was created by an idea: the idea we could have equality, independence and freedom as individuals, not because of our skin color, our religion, our political party, the culture of our heritages, or our economics, but because we are human beings with certain inalienable rights (does that last phrase sound familiar?).

We are all subject to those inalienable rights because of that idea, that attempt by men who were flawed, just like all of us, to create independence from oppression almost 250 years ago, and in doing so, came up with the idea that they were subservient to the idea of independence and equality, not the other way around.

There are many ideas about what a “perfect” government should be.” And all ideas since the beginning of time reflect Mose Allison’s observation in his song “Mercy:” “Everybody’s crying justice, just as long as they get theirs first.” Except one government. This one. And it too is flawed in that it relies on humans to effect it, and humans seem to forget the original idea and fight against anything they perceive is not in their best interest and damn the interests of everyone else. And our humans have been screwing up ever since this government, based on this wonderful idea of equality, was founded.

Two things we honor and swear to in recognizing our flag and the national anthem represents that idea. The anthem, after the first stanza, is also flawed because it was written by a human. It is words, and it can and has been interpreted in many ways.

Every Friday morning when i am on the golf course at Naval Air Station, North Island (and have been for almost all Fridays since 1991) sometime around the fourth through sixth holes, i and my long time golfing partners and military retirees, hear the bugle’s “Call to Colors,” or “First Call,” and go on alert while continuing to hit our golf balls. Then five minutes later, we stop at the bugle call of “To the Color,”or “Colors” as we have come to call it. We turn toward a flag location we cannot see, take off our hats, stand at attention, put our right hand on our heart, and remain that way through the playing of the anthem and until the bugle call “Retreat” tells us to conclude our honors to…not the military, not the government, but to the idea.

The flag, or the Ensign as we in the Navy call it, has more significance to me: no words, an idea of independence, solidarity of the states to pursue equality of all men (including women) represented by a piece of cloth blowing in the wind.

It is the idea we defended for the major portion of our lives. Many of us died for that idea. We defended the idea of freedom of speech. We swore to defend that idea. So all of you folks with your noble concerns about inequality, oppression, abuse, when you do not honor the flag or the anthem are not properly showing your resistance to equality, to independence, but you are, in fact, making your symbolic gesture suggesting the idea of equality and independence for all, against the very things representing the idea.

i also don’t agree with those who are so bitterly opposed to those who choose to dishonor our flag and anthem, symbols of the very idea they are trying to express. That is the right of the protestors. There are many points of equality or inequality we need to address and make right, again for all human beings, or at least make the attempt, which in our current state is impossible because of the refusal to discuss rationally rather than taking the stance of us-against-them, the mentality which is raging in our country right now.

i don’t ask any of you change. You aren’t going to change regardless of what i write or say.

All i ask is you intelligently think about what i have written and decide what is right. What is the right thing to do? Think about what that flag and that anthem represents: the idea of freedom. We have the only government in the world based on that idea of inalienable rights for all, and we, all of us, are too intolerant to act on that idea.

Think about it.

6 thoughts on “The Flag and the Anthem: One Perspective

  1. With your calming words you put the issue very succinctly. How refreshing to listen to words that are absent of yelling, shouting and anger.💕

  2. That’s a great post, Jim. I say protest all you want but keep it civil. That in itself is a tall order for most people. But dammit, I hate it when they drag the Stars n Stripes into the mix. And I don’t think any of these football players have much credibility in the political sphere. They are dumb ass athletes that love to grandstand.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *