Saturday, November the eleventh is Veterans Day, a day to honor military veterans of the United States.
A few weeks ago, my husband and I stumbled upon a little museum café in downtown Mooresville. It was our first date night in a very long time and we had been lured downtown by an art walk. Late reservations at a nice eatery in town gave us ample time to leisurely amble along, while looking at art and chatting with the artists.
The museum is called Richard’s Coffee Shop and Military Museum. While they didn’t have any local art displayed upon their walls, they were open for visitors. We wandered in, unsure of what to expect.
In just a few moments, I was unable to speak for fear that the tears welling up in my eyes would gather up enough courage to fall and cause me to weep.
Outside their humble doors, the NFL flag kneeling controversy, as I shall call it, was in full-swing (again). And, the more I looked at the walls around me, the more humbled I became. And, the more frustrated I felt about the protest against the National Anthem and the United States flag.
A cause worthy of protest, but not against the American flag – a symbol of where we have been, what we are today and how we will be better tomorrow.
I tersely and tearfully expressed my discontent, for the egregious, arrogant athletes who kneel against what these men and many other men and women fought and continue to fight for, to the caring ears of my husband.
While I make it a common practice to avoid public discourse I decided to share this frustration with you.
NFL players believe that kneeling during the playing of The Star Spangled Banner is the appropriate platform to express concerns with race and police brutality. In my opinion, they may as well trample carelessly across this.
Or stand here and scream and yell.
The flag of the United States neither stands for hatred, nor the mistreatment of people. The same is true for our National Anthem, despite its roots. They both stand for one nation where we come together to solve problems.
They stand for those who fight in other parts of the world in order to keep our freedom, those who lay down their life to keep the flag flying and The Star Spangled Banner playing in stadiums across the U.S. They stand for all that we have done as a nation to become who we are. And, they represent all that we want to do and all that we will do to become better.
The flag unites us. It should not destroy us. The unity it represents should be celebrated and those who fight for it should be honored.
United we stand and divided we fall.
Heck. NFL players don’t even have to carry their injured teammates off of the field. They have fancy golf carts to do that for them.
And, they also have this, just like the rest of us in America. Protection. Represented perfectly by this metaphorical sculpture at Richard’s Coffee shop. A freedom to fish in beautiful waters, because someone is guarding us from those who seek to destroy us and everything we know.
Dear kneeling NFL player: Look at this man’s face and tell me he stood for hatred and mistreatment as he crawled through the jungles in Vietnam. Do you want to call Mr. Hernandez’s family and tell them that when the flag was draped over his casket it was a slap in the face to matters of race?
You kneel for racism. You should be standing for freedom and standing to make a difference in our country.
And, since you seem to be falling short of fresh ideas on how to do that, here are some humble suggestions from a little mama in Mooresville, NC. While I do love to watch football, I appreciate our military a million times more.
Five Alternatives to Kneeling During the National Anthem in Order to Express Your Opinion
Buy an advertising spot during the airing of your game (or a popular show – I hear This is Us is quite good). Use that time to eloquently express concerns about racism and police brutality. Offer solutions. Demand a change. We know what you make. You can afford it.
Volunteer in the schools. And, if you are really attached to the idea of kneeling, get down on one knee with the children. Look them in the eyes. Work with them. Break down the racism that has been passed from generation to generation. Children aren’t born with hate in their hearts towards those with different-colored skin. They are taught it.
Take a football and go into the inner-cities, go into the country, go to the under-privileged communities. Kneel down and talk to the children. Play with them. Inspire them to do their best. Tell them there are people who have their side and there might be some who don’t, but to remember there will always be more people who are for them than there are against them.
4. Start a Non-Profit
Establish an organization to seek productive partnerships and ways to address racial tensions across America.
Salute the flag and rise for the singing of the National Anthem, and “for the republic for which it stands,” to demonstrate that we are united and that through togetherness we will win. And, that includes the war against racism.
But please don’t kneel and disrespect that which unites us, that for which men and women fight and lay down their lives.
After all, we are the:
The Establishment of Veterans Day
Veterans Day, was established originally as Armistice Day to honor the end of World War I, which was November 11, 1918. The legislation that passed in 1938 dedicated November 11 to “the cause of world peace.” It honored World War I veterans. In 1954, after going through two more wars, Congress amended the Act of 1938 by eliminating the word “Armistice” and adding “Veterans.” November 11th became a day to honor all American veterans of all wars.
And with that, I will leave you with some fodder in the way of facts:
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of February 2017 there are currently 1,085, 286 enlisted personnel. By comparison, there are 1,696 total players on the NFL rosters (53 for each of the 32 teams).
Since the Revolutionary War started in 1775, almost three million American military personnel have died in combat. No NFL player has ever died from a hit on the football field during a game. One player, Chuck Hughes of the Detroit Lions, died of a heart attack during a game.
I’m standing. XO, Melissa