The National Anthem does not need to be played before every single sporting event. It is forced patriotism that has diluted the power of the message of standing at attention before the flag.
A sporting event is a glorified movie, and no movie theater plays the National Anthem before the next showing of “Jason Bourne.”
We are numb to the song, the music and the message. There should be an impact to the message when we stand at attention. And the message is standing for the ideal and what we aspire for America, not always what it is.
Displayed inside a dark room at the National Museum of American History in Washington D.C. is the original Star Bangled Banner; it was put on display here after a major effort to restore much of the grand flag in 2008.
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It is this flag that was raised by American forces on Sept. 14, 1814 over Fort McHenry in the Battle of Baltimore after a victory against the British. It is this flag that was the inspiration for Francis Scott Key to write a song that is absolutely one of the most difficult in recorded history to perform in key - the “Star Bangled Banner.”
It is difficult not to be impressed at the sight of something that means so much to the evolution of our nation.
Since San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kapernick decided he would sit rather than stand before the National Anthem during a preseason NFL game as a protest to racial inequality in the U.S., the concept of freedom of speech, racism patriotism have once again become popular fodder in sports commentary.
He has started a nationwide trend; the DeSoto volleyball players knelt before a recent match on Tuesday night.
In looking at the giant flag that represents so much to the history of what is a flawed but wonderful country it is this: America is a house, and Americans are family. Like most homes and most families, there is a high degree of dysfunction and it’s often a giant mess of noise, drama, action, love and stupidity. It’s also ours, and you don’t leave it.
America is the ultimate marriage - for better or for worse, we are stuck with each other.
As an American, Kaepernick has every right to sit during the playing of the national anthem. As an American, we are allowed to take that right for granted.
I have no problem with Kaepernick using his platform as a highly visible athlete to draw attention to a social cause; it’s been done time and again, whether it was Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown - and sometimes with great success.
My bigger issue with Kaepernick is has he done anything other than sit and talk? Is he doing something other than stating that racial inequality is a major problem that continues to exist despite our advanced society?
It is one thing to state it, and quite another to do the necessary leg work to work the problem. Brown did it like few others.
Considering the criticism Kaepernick has taken since he did it, perhaps sitting and talking indeed qualifies as his work for this issue that white dudes, such as myself, simply cannot relate.
It is not unpatriotic to call out America for her problems. What is unpatriotic is doing nothing about it.
[ UPDATE: AFTER POSTING THIS, MANY PEOPLE ON SOCIAL MEDIA CALLED ME OUT, RIGHTLY SO, FOR FAILING TO RECOGNIZE THAT KAEPERNICK HAS PLEDGED TO DONATE $100,000 PER MONTH OVER THE NEXT 10 MONTHS TO A VARIETY OF CHARITIES. HARD TO FAULT THE MAN FOR THIS. HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE FOLLOWING HIS LEAD WITH THIS TYPE OF CHARITABLE ACTS IS UNKNOWN. ]
Patriotism is not buying a flag and placing it outside your home. Patriotism is not shooting off fireworks on the Fourth of July and grilling burgers. Patriotism is more than taking off your hat and standing still to listen to the words of the National Anthem before returning to your phone.
Being patriotic is doing something for America and making your home a better place to live for yourself, and your family. We may not always like it, and more than 200 years later we know that the democracy designed by the Founding Fathers is beset with flaws like every other political ideology. The Founding Fathers were a group of rich white men trying to create a “fair” society, and we all know that “fair” is a made up concept and a moving target.
There are moments - think 9/11 - when we are there for each other that is most humane during the most inhumane of moments. And there are far too many others when we beat the living hell out of each other out of fear, ignorance, or sometimes merely over a pair of overpriced shoes, or a cheap TV set at Wal-Mart.
A group of broke soldiers in the 1770s, or 1814, fought not for the right to Colin Kaepernick to sit down but rather the right to run a home free clear of another governing body across a large ocean. That’s why you stand for the Star Spangled Banner - the fight to win and practice that ideology.
A part of that ideology includes the right for Kaepernick to kneel while everyone else stands during the National Anthem. I would not do it, but I am grateful he has the right to.
This is our house, and Kaepernick is an American, and all he did was merely express his opinions in an effort to raise awareness about a societal injustice. Some may even argue that is patriotic.
Patriotism is embracing all of it, for better or for worse, and that is why I stand.