I love the game of football, almost as much as I love this country, and have the added privilege of being able to take my son to a few NFL games during the regular season. That said, I really don’t know right now if I will take a knee in protest or if I will stand during the playing of the national anthem at the next game we attend. I also do not know which military veterans I would be openly disrespecting, as some folks have implied, if I were to take that knee. Or, for that matter, which ones I would be honoring if I decide to stand?
Would it be the thousands of veterans who sacrificed their lives in the service of this country defending the belief in the truth the all men are created equal, and endowed with the unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Or would it be the thousands of dissenters who lost their lives fighting for the continued right to disagree with that truth, and continue to deny those unalienable rights to people of color like me? To which group would one act be viewed as a tribute and the other act a denunciation?
It would not be a difficult choice to make, for me, because my choice would have nothing to do either group.
The same flag flies in national cemeteries where monuments and memorials commemorate not only both groups, and all who are interred there, but also the human foolishness that caused them to be there.
And what of the flag? Which stars and which stripes, I wonder, would I be openly disrespecting while on that knee; and which ones would I be honoring by standing? Would it be the ones that represent the states and former colonies that launched the vessels in whose nightmarish hulls my ancestors were chained and shackled like netted carp, and transported into two centuries of bondage and misery? Or would it be those that did not?
Would it be the ones that represent the states and state houses that shielded men who once sanctioned and participated in the enslavement, the rape, the lynching, the murders and the massacres of people who look like me, and people who did not look like them? Where men and women still endeavor, to this day, to perpetuate the same centuries old history of racial discrimination, oppression, segregation, and slew of other injustices through the unequal application of legislation disguised as fair and just laws? Or would it be the ones that do not? And which ones would they be?
Again, it would not be a difficult choice to make from where I stand because what I see merely symbolizes fifty states and the thirteen original colonies that were declared to be “one nation, indivisible, with justice and liberty for all”. But are we really?
I suppose I could simply stand in deference to the values it is supposed to represent; instead of kneeling to protest our willful and collective failure as a nation of peoples to embody those values.
Guess I’m gonna have to decide come Sunday.
In the meantime, I’m gonna’ simply ignore that fool and those folks who think they can answer that question for me because they cannot. And I’m also gonna’ ignore that fool and those folks who believe they have both the right and moral authority to tell me which one I must do and why I must do it — by correlating my choice to a few cherry-picked events from America’s history that makes them feel good about their history — because they do not.
Either way (regardless of the choice I make or why) those who are able to read between the lines in this post should have a crystal clear understanding of the unspoken gratitude contained therein for not only our military veterans (which I happen to be), but for every American who for the noble causes of God and this country and its flag — answered the call and gave to that cause the last full measure of their devotion*.
Oh say can you see…