America, Respectfully

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There was a high school soccer game on an adjacent field to my son’s baseball practice last night. Sitting on the bleachers with my back to the soccer field, I was reading on my phone when suddenly, I heard the national anthem. I put my phone down, walked to face the field and placed my hand over my heart. Halfway through the song, I looked around and saw that nearly everyone else, even those at the very back of the complex stopped on-the-spot to do the same thing. What I also noticed was that most of us were standing alone. There weren’t clusters of people reminding each other to do it. Each of us did it of our own volition. 

When I heard the first few notes of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” I immediately thought of the growing protest of the national anthem. I understand and support the reasons for the protest and I’m grateful we have the right to speak out. But I choose to stand out of respect for 250 years worth of honorable men and women who courageously entered “the perilous fight,” since the beginning of the American Revolution, decades before the American flag or the national anthem even existed. I choose to stand and honor the men and women who pour[ed] their hearts and lives into building and protecting the spirit of America.

I stand with my hand over my heart during our national anthem because the valor and dedication of those who give their lives, their sanity and their limbs in order to preserve our basic human rights deserve to be recognized. 

I believe there is validity in anyone’s reasons for protesting. America is a hot mess and I agree with the outrage. It wasn’t that long ago I was so ashamed to be an American I said I was ready to leave. But more recently I realized my real problem is with American culture not America itself. For me, the flag and the national anthem are not necessarily symbols for what America is. I view them as symbols for what America stands for. They are representations of this country’s founding principles. America is a work in progress, and the flag is a reminder to me of what we’re working for as laid out in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. I see the flag as a rally cry to do better.

Americans aren’t really that great in my opinion, BUT the founding principles of AMERICA are pretty awesome. And I will not disrespect those who give all to uphold those principles.

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