Stand Up to Be Counted…

respect image

So, the National Football League is going to fine teams if their players “take a knee” during the playing of the National Anthem.

Plus, players who don’t want to stand while the Star Spangled Banner is played can stay in the locker room until after the ceremony.

It all seems rather strange to me.

I had a newspaper friend ask me months ago if I was offended by the protests of some players and teams. He posed the question since I am a veteran.

I told him their actions did not offend me because I’m convinced most of these people “protesting” were never taught what was proper and respectful.

They don’t know any differently.

I did.

I remember going to parades and events and watching how other folks stood up, removed their hats and placed their hand over their heart as the flag passed by.

I don’t actually recall a conversation with my parents regarding flag etiquette but I remembered how I was taught in school when we started each .day with a prayer and the pledge.

I also remembered learning about the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the history behind “Old Glory”.

That’s what I was taught.

When we were growing up in Mansfield, OH, my Dad had a friend of his construct a 20 foot tapered steel flag pole with a shiny, brass ball on the top.

That flag flew everyday from its’ spot on the northwest side of the yard on Crestwood Drive.

Later, I was given that flag pole and it was part of our homes until we moved to Indiana. I still wish I would have taken it with us to our current home.

Dad taught us how to fold the flag in that familiar triangular way.

He also told us that the flag was raised to full-staff on Memorial Day morning before it was reverently lowered to half staff, where it remained until noon.

Then it was briskly raised to the top of the pole where it flew for the remainder of the day.

That’s what  was taught.

I think the first time I remembered our flag being flown at half-staff was after President Kennedy was killed.

I remembered putting the flag at half-staff and thinking how unique and special that was.

Allow me to digress for a moment.

I find myself wondering at times why the flag is flying at half-staff.

I always thought it was reserved for very special occasions and reasons but it seems we’ve become a bit more flippant in deciding what is a situation worthy of lowering the flag.

When Neav and I were first married, we were stationed with the USAF in Selma, Alabama. I always remembered when we “retired the colors” at the end of the day , if you were driving on the base and heard the bugle call, you immediately stopped your vehicle, exited, and stood at attention until the ceremony ended.

That’s what we were taught.

When my Dad died, my Mom was presented the huge American flag that draped his coffin.

He was a veteran and served with the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II.

Later, my Mom gave me that flag and we’ve displayed it on certain occasions but because of it’s size, it takes a bit more effort to show it properly.

I think the last time we had it outdoors was to display it on our backyard gazebo, facing Interstate 65 just after 911.

It prompted a few horn toots of support and acknowledgement.

But, I was concerned about the wear and tear on that flag, now nearly 50 years old, so it is folded in it’s triangular shape and stored in the closet.

Maybe I’ll bring it back out again one of these days but it will be a special time or occasion.

And, we’ll display it with reverence and respect.

That’s what I was taught.

Remember the 1968 summer Olympics in Mexico City when American sprinters John Smith and Tommie Carlos protested during the medal ceremony?

Tommie thrust his right fist into the air while John raised his left fist and both bowed their heads while the National Anthem was played.

Lots of people gasped at the display but I thought their actions took a great deal of courage.

I didn’t see it as disrespectful.

Perhaps Colin Kapernick was bold in taking his action but I sensed more of a knee-jerk “me too” response to the subsequent kneelings by other teams and players.

Maybe if tv cameras focused on the thousands of other people at the game with hats removed, hands over hearts and singing, we’d see how most of us really feel.

I had friends in the 60’s who thought wearing flannel shirts and jeans, growing long hair and beards and burning draft cards was the way to effect change.

How dare I suggest cutting your hair, putting on a tie and getting into the board rooms as a more effective way to have impact.

That’s what I did.

But then again, that’s what I was taught.

One thought on “Stand Up to Be Counted…

  1. Awesome article Johnny. I could still fold old glory the correct way because I was taught that as well.
    How I wish they would stop flying the flag at half staff for everything. Used to be you knew why it was flying at half staff but no longer. Most times I have to ask someone and they don’t usually know either.

    Liked by 1 person

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