A combat veteran's perspective on the flag, the anthem, and ownership thereof.
A lot of individuals have complained about Kap kneeling because 'How dare you disgrace our men and women of the armed forces'. But take a second and hear me out, please. Honestly, I didn't get this when all that was happening. I didn't hate him kneeling, but I didn't necessarily like it either. However, through all the events since then, I have had a realization with what the flag truly represents.
Contrary to current popular belief, the flag does not, nor has it ever, nor should it ever, only symbolize and represent the US military and the sacrifices of the fallen. It symbolizes and represents the United States of America. ALL ITS CITIZENS. It give us the authority to voice our opinions. It gives us the right to stand up against oppression. It literally stands for liberty and justice. And because of that, yes, it gives us the right to kneel.
We give pledge to it. Remember? And if I'm not mistaken, not once in that pledge does it say anything about only revering the flag for the sacrifices of the US military. Does it include that sacrifice? Absolutely. Does the military have sole ownership of the US Flag? Absolutely not.
General Mattis has made me so damn happy today. To see military leadership speaking out against the atrocity of what happened in Lafayette Square and the misuse of the military in our nations capitol city. And if you do not live here, take from someone who has seen it first-person; it is unsettling, it is dangerous, and it undermines our democracy. Mattis' words were empowering and gives credence to his leadership. Leadership, that we are so desperately missing.
A quote from his recent statement, "The pandemic has shown us that it is not only our troops who are willing to offer the ultimate sacrifice for the safety of the community. Americans in hospitals, grocery stores, post offices, and elsewhere have put their lives on the line in order to serve their fellow citizens and their country."
So many Americans since its creation have served and sacrificed for this great country, many of which, never wore a military uniform. Researchers cure diseases, rocket scientists took us to the moon and soon to Mars, nurses and doctors heal us when we're weak and injured, and trash collectors ensure our trash doesn't pile up. That last one is one hell of a true service. An argument I typically hear to this is that while those things were good, great even, they pale in comparison to the sacrifice of the battlefield. What we call the ultimate sacrifice. And it is the ultimate, laying down your life for your country. But I cannot seem to think that one person should hold more ownership of the flag than another, regardless of sacrifice. If we are all equal, then how does any one person or group or organization have more stake in the flag than another? But for sake of argument, let's compare.
An immigrant and his family come to this country. He builds a business running a small restaurant, in a small town for 40 years. He works his whole life to invest in his children, sacrificing weekends, vacations, personal projects he knows he'll never be able to do, so that he can provide for his family and build a better future for his children. That is sacrifice. And who is so just and mighty to compare one sacrifice to another? Does one have to die in order to give great sacrifice? If one pledges his life to others, sacrifices his life, his desires, for others, is that not an ultimate sacrifice, as well?
We are all represented by that flag that so beautifully flies. The flag that we sing the anthem to at baseball games. The flag that we fly in our front yards and on flag poles across this country. It doesn't just represent the sacrifices of the US military. It represents us all.
So please. Stop giving so much ownership of the flag to the military. Understand that it means so much more than that.
Imagine, the scope of that statement.
It means more than just the sacrifice of my brothers and sisters who have served, who have died. Damn.
That's a burden none of us could carry. And none of us will ever have to. Because that flag flying represents all the sacrifice it has taken to build this nation. A nation of many cultures, a melting pot. It's not cliche, it's fact. And we cannot continue to divide ourselves into groups. We. Are. Americans. That flag flies for all of us. It represents all of us. As citizens of the United States, we ALL have ownership of the flag.
Kap kneeled because of a message he was trying to get out. A message to prevent another unnecessary death. A message that for decades has fallen on deaf ears. A message of protest.
I didn't see it then. I was wrong. I see it now.
"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."