Respect for the National Anthem
Respect for the National Anthem
What does the American flag mean to me, and why do we teach our children to respect the flag? It represents our country, and all the men and women who have died to procure the freedoms that we enjoy in this nation. In this great nation minorities are afforded more legal protections and security than about anywhere else in the world. This is the flag that drapes the caskets of our veterans, including the 13 young people who just came home from Afghanistan. These are their names:
Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, 25
Sgt. Nicole L. Gee, 23
Staff Sgt. Darin T. Hoover, 31
Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22
Cpl. Daegan W. Page, 23
Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez, 22
Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza, 20
Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz, 20
Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum, 20
Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, 20
Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, 20
Navy Corpsman Maxton W. Soviak, 22
Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss, 23
We fly our flags at half mast to honor these young people and their grieving families. This flag that guarantees the right to our free speech is the same flag that a portion of our marching band are trampling over in disrespect. Last week about 30 students kneeled while playing the national anthem. As they disregard the death of these veterans, they are offending our community. The band that we have always called “the pride of River” has caused us to hang our heads in shame.
Our Friday night football game and our national anthem should not be the venue for our students’ political protest. They wear the uniform for a reason. They are representing our school. When someone puts on a uniform, they temporarily give up some individual rights to represent an entity greater than themself. The uniformity of their performance is meant to show the unity of a group working together for a common purpose, but this divisive behavior negates the whole point of wearing the uniform, showboating individualism over group performance. For heaven’s sake, the band is required to wear their hair a certain way for the sake of uniformity, but they are allowed to break rank to kneel. Why even wear a uniform?
There is also the issue of band members being pressured by classmates to kneel because it is the “antiracist” thing to do, with those students who don’t kneel being considered racist. This is dividing students and creating an environment that destroys what Friday night football games are all about- fun together and school unity. This is an example of the activist agenda at work in our school, and the result is division and strife.
Our school leaders and students need to realize there are consequences for choosing to allow behavior that offends their community. Why would the veterans want to invite the band to march in their Memorial Day parade? Why should this community support this band and invest in new uniforms so they can soil their knees in disrespect? Why should we pass school levies in support of this self-indulgent individualism as a representation of our school? If these students disdain this “bubble” of privilege so much, why should our community continue financing their privileges?
I recommend that our school take leadership and make choices. Either disallow kneeling or take away the band’s privilege of playing the national anthem if they cannot do so in a manner worthy of respect. If there are students who want to play it respectfully then let them play, and the rest can sit in the stands. The right to free speech ought to include the rights of those who want to stand and play, but I would rather listen to a recording than watch this band use our national anthem, something that should bring us together, as an opportunity to divide our community.