I didn’t grow up in a military family. My Grandfather served in the Navy at the tail end of WWII and spent most of his time in the hospital due to a mistake when being inoculated against TB, and was instead given TB. So the military wasn’t something I really knew much about growing up.
Despite that, somehow during my formative years my parents and probably the daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of at least one patriotic song at school instilled in me a great love of my country and our flag. I’ve always felt it’s importance and the need to honor and respect both.
Long before I met my husband I had written a piano solo arrangement of The Star Spangled Banner that I was asked to play in my hometown due to some very devisive things that had been going on there at that time. I poured my very soul into that arrangement and my feelings of this anthem into my rendition of it. The audience joined me and sang it as I played.
A couple times in my life I’ve had the privilege to see the original Star Spangled Banner and spent time at Ft McHenry where it flew during the battle that is immortalized with our National Anthem. Those were reverent times for me as I reflected on our country, our flag and yes, those who have fought to protect it.
I am married to a man who joined the military because he cares very deeply about his country and defending and protecting others. He also happens to be in Law Enforcement. The experiences I have had since becoming a Military Spouse and Law Enforcement Spouse have only caused my love of Country, our Flag, and our Anthem to grow. I have served my country in my own way by supporting my husband and taking care of our family so he could protect our freedoms. Our Flag means something to me. Deeply.
I have been taught to respect, love and honor The Flag and the National Anthem because it represents our country. Our entire country and all the people in it. Our nation I think is a bit like one of us because it is made up of so many of us. We make mistakes, we do incredibly wonderful and brave things. But we are also human and make mistakes and our country reflects that.
Frequently we think of The Flag belonging to our military. And while flags have traditionally been created for the military and armies have carried them into battle, the truth is, it stands for much more and belongs to every American. It represents our Country and every Man, Woman, and Child. As a former short-term employee of The Federal Government, I too took the oath to protect and defend the United States. This is not something only the military and the President swear to do, but anyone who works for our Government. Whether we take the oath ourselves or not I feel it should be the aim of all the people in our country to protect and defend it against all enemies foreign and domestic. We have a moral obligation to stand up for the weak, injustice, and things that are wrong, to make this country better.
If the NFL’s players complaint is truly about police brutality and race inequality, I think there could be a better way of protesting that. The police have nothing to do with The Flag other than to protect and defend it as well as every other American person. Raising a fist to our Flag during the National Anthem is a sign of disrespect to The Flag and no one is going to convince me of anything different. Sitting, in my opinion, shows perhaps not a disrespect as much as a lack of respect which far more than NFL players show in this Nation. Taking a knee could legitimately be argued that it isn’t a sign of disrespect but I reserve my kneeling for God and my Savior.
These NFL football players have a voice. They get paid a lot of money and get a lot of attention. If they truly want to help the problem of police brutality, or race relations, let them go work together to find solutions with the police. One of the most valuable things I’ve learned as an advocate is that if you want to change the way things are, you can’t just complain about things. Bring solutions to the table to find a way to make that change happen. People idolize NFL players and they have a huge following. Race relations? Let them do the same thing. Take their money, their influence and let’s build up families, let’s build up neighborhoods and get kids involved in sports and learning and doing so with all races. Because working and getting to know each other and building up families is the only way to break down race boundaries and prejudice. Just think how effective and how much it could bring the country together if their protest was something more along these lines. (And in all fairness many Sports Players do work with communities and give back to them but I am thinking on a much larger level.)
I think the discussions that are happening are good. I think that people do have the legal right to protest. But I also think there is a moral right that doesn’t deserve to be forgotten, and morals are not just for the religious. Morally I believe we owe it to this Nation and to each other to rally around the Flag.