Supposedly there currently is a national stir over some quarterback from some pro football team on the West Coast who refused to stand for the National Anthem. Was he correct? Exercising his rights? Disrespectful? Or, just plain idiotic? I am not going to comment on him or his actions. But, I will share my thoughts on the flag and leave it to others to draw their own conclusions.
From the website, www.usa.gov/flag, "The Flag of the United States of America is a symbol of freedom and liberty to which Americans pledge their allegiance by standing at attention, facing the flag with the right hand over the heart, and reciting:
"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
The flag consists of 13 alternating red and white stripes that represent the 13 original colonies, and 50 white stars on a blue field, with each star representing a state. The colors on the flag represent:
• Red: valor and bravery
• White: purity and innocence
• Blue: vigilance, perseverance, and justice."
I realize the United States has its share of weighty troubles and I am not going to diminish or make light of them. The struggle of people groups within these borders is very real and painful.
We are also living in a time full of distraction, distrust, disregard, and division. Our beautiful "melting pot" has morphed into a polarized and disrupted state. Are we just charred remains? Or, is the pot only now starting to boil over and spill?
The beauty of our flag, or any flag for that matter, is that it serves as a rallying point. It is a rendering of a set of ideals which a group of people hold deep in their hearts. The flag is a point of unification.
I may disagree with your ideas and politics, or with the way in which you live your life, but I see others here in these borders, as my fellow Americans and so, whether I like you as a person or not is immaterial. Under this flag and only this flag, because we agree on so little else, are we sharing in something.
At the end of Mel Gibson's movie, Apocalypto, there is a quote given as the European explorers sail up to the shores of the Central American lands for the first time...these lands in which jungle communities are hunted by the stronger civilizations for human sacrifice at the temples. It reads, "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." (W. Durant).
If the American flag is one of the few remaining emblems of commonly-held ideals (namely freedom) we possess as a nation, then does it make sense to trample it? Burn it? Not stand up for it?
Radical groups the world over burn, rip, and trample the American flag. These same groups cut off peoples' heads and rape babies. Are we really going to align our behaviors with those crowds?
If more people are "okay" with negative actions toward one of our national symbols, then what do we have left? We have removed what were common thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors in favor of a "more free" state, but then people are permitted and even extolled for hating the very physical thing that represents these freedoms in the first place.
After 9/11, the one single unifying aspect we shared as a country, whether we lived in the desert, the bayous, the mountains, the plains, or the coasts was a rectangle colored with red, white, and blue.
You may have voted for the "other guy" at the polls, but when we saw one another's car magnet flags, or porch flags, we knew we shared a kindred bond with others, with other Americans, who DO hail from all over the globe and who came here, some sadly under force and some by choice to begin life and to begin what IS a great American adventure.
The songs goes, "...the Flag still stands for freedom and they can't take that away..."
Oh, but they can and they will. If we let them. If we despise the emblems of our freedom, we shall fall from within first and then those who want to trample more than our flag will have that opportunity. We will have handed it to them.
"...By the dawn's early light!" Francis Scott Key was excited to see that the flag remained during the night. His rally point and place of unity still stood. We are in the night as a nation right now, do we tear down our most visible and important reminder of who we are?