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I Have Never …
October 19, 2017Posted by on
My grandmother grew up in Switzerland. At the age of 18 she came to America, settled in Sacramento and married the man of her dreams. He died a few years later while she was pregnant with her second child and my grandmother never married. She had an incredible vegetable garden in her backyard and made great rhubarb sauce and the best garlic bread. She didn’t like it that my brother and I drank so much milk.
She also cried during the playing of the National Anthem because it meant so much to her.
Me, not so much. Coming of political age in the era of Reagan-Bush, I had a lot of problems with what our country was doing outside its borders. While I always stood for the Anthem when it was appropriate, I did so reluctantly and with less than positive thoughts about my country in my head.
Besides the political issues I had back in the 1980s, I have never liked our National Anthem. It is a song about a war and that a piece of cloth survived the war. It is not about how beautiful our country is, how wonderful our people are, it is not about anything other than a war and a piece of cloth. I’d much rather America the Beautiful was our National Anthem and was played before every sporting event, if such a thing has to happen at all.
There was a change a few years ago, where the National Anthem wasn’t as bothersome to me. A few years ago, I went to a Giants game after some horrible thing had happened and rather than having a singer sing the song, the entire crowd was invited to sign the National Anthem. It was one of the most moving events I have ever been a part of.
But these things change and so to finish the thought started in the title of this post … I have never wanted to stand for the National Anthem less than I did last night.
I went to the Sacramento Kings game. The flag went out across the court, the singer was introduced, and I wanted to stay in my seat. The players on the Kings stood and linked arms. The visiting team stood as well. I wanted to kneel. Why? Because the President of our country has turned this into such a massive political crapfest, a test of patriotism as defined by him and his lunacy, that I want nothing to do with it.
I love my country, but the flag is a piece of cloth that means virtually nothing to me. What matters to me vastly more are the rights and principles upon which this country was founded. The rights to free thought and expression and assembly. The right to not be forced to think what others think. Marcus Breton, a columnist for the Sacramento Bee who I regularly disagree with, wrote a piece in today’s edition that pretty much speaks to what I think the problem is.
The leader of our country has decided that he has a right to try to force his brand of patriotism on the rest of the country. That he has the right in the crudest terms possible to stifle dissent and differing opinions. Our President, and yes he is our President. He is not their President, he is not President of only the people who voted for him. He is our President. He is seeking to fan the flames of rage and hate and intolerance to further his divisive, vengeful political agenda.
I stood last night because I was surprised at my internal reaction to the idea. I wasn’t ready for it. The next time, I won’t. I will remain in my seat or I will kneel. I will not stand for the national anthem again as long as this man is our President. Patriotism is something much deeper than a multi-colored cloth and a song.
Thank you for sharing these thoughts, Mark. I always love reading your commentary and share so many of the sentiments you expressed here.
I’m with you, Mark. I never understood America’s flag fetish, and our anthem is probably one of the worst in the world — words and music. I can’t remember now, but there are verses we don’t sing anymore that blame blacks for taking the British side. Gee, I wonder why?! Key was pretty typically white supremacist-leaning.
As for taking a knee at a sporting event, it’s feels righteous but risky these days. Minimally you could get a soda poured down your back … Yet there’s power in numbers, and if more people sat or knelt, the spirit of the gesture would start to get out.
I should have stayed in my seat but I was surprised and unprepared for the reaction I had to standing. Just wasn’t ready for it.
What a great post! Patriotism isn’t nationalism, and you’ve expressed that really well.
Just saw a photo on FB today of the entire Army football team kneeling. I guess that’s what the military thinks of the whole brouhaha Trump has created.
It is amazing to see some of the reactions to this, but according to Snopes, that picture was of the team kneeling in prayer before a game and did not occur during the Anthem.