The flag, the national anthem, and what they mean to me.

My earliest memory of reverence for the flag, was seeing it flying on a huge pole in front of my Grandpa’s house. We would go see him once a year for thanksgiving and my cousins would come as well, was always a really good time. pulling up and seeing that flag meant we had arrived from the long 12 hour trip (a lifetime for a van full of kids and tiger electronic handheld games).

Grandpa Creel was a war hero, though he never bragged or talked about it. He won multiple medals but whenever I asked him about war, he always just said he got there, caught some shrapnel and was sent home. He worked on the base after he got out and belonged to all the local VFW type places.

My first memory of the anthem is at JFK High School in Silver Spring Maryland, where I was a minority for the first and likely last time in my life. The anthem was played in the morning and people were asked to stand over the intercom, nobody ever did. One day the history teacher asked why weren’t doing it, either he or I or someone else in the class said it was because we were communist. The teacher went on to explain it was our right not to stand, and talk about communism and such for a few minutes (if memory is correct, I believe he actually was communist, or just really into rage against the machine, dude was an awesome teacher and made a real impact on me). The real reason I didn’t stand had nothing to do with politics of course. It was the morning, nobody else was doing it, they couldn’t force us to stand, and I was tired. Why should I stand and repeat a mantra?

Then we moved to the eastern shore and I now was going to North Caroline High School, which had no A/C, and was positioned next to a cow farm, with the windows down to let the air and smell in. Hicks and Rednecks went from being non existent, to being the ideal look. It was a culture shock to say the least. One of the new differences was, everyone stood for the anthem here at NCHS. I knew my rights, so I did not. I believed, and still do, that exercising my right not to stand, was more patriotic then standing because everyone else was. I was given in school suspension for a period as a result. The next day I once again exercised my right’s to point out the irony of forcing someone to stand for democracy. That is fascism, not what America means to me. I was given a whole day of in school suspension, and was told I would remain in suspension until I was ready to stand. I did another day or two then grew tired of sitting in a room, not being allowed to speak, and having no school work for 8 hours. I went back to class and stood with my back to flag, this was an acceptable compromise and life continued on.

When I go to sporting events, I get the goose bumps every time the anthem is played and the entire crowd of tens of thousands stand up in unison and salute our country and the men and women who defend it (The military). It is one of the things I look forward to most about going to games. Being part of something that big is exciting.

We live in a police state, go ahead and try and name all the para military police organizations that exist in your state alone that you must obey at all times, you won’t be able to, they are too numerous. Sheriff Taylor, much to the chagrin of Deputy Fife, went out of his way to avoid conflict. He would de-escalate all his interactions with law breakers, and do his best to avoid ticketing or jailing them if possible. He was a fine upstanding man who the whole town loved. He was also sadly fictional. The current police state “puts their lives on the line everyday”. The are fearful for their lives, they are armed, and they are beyond question. They treat each interaction like the man they just pulled over for speeding is going to pull a gun and kill them (which has certainly happened before). In the last few years, thanks to everyone owning a smartphone with a camera now, it is now being reported, and backed up by video proof, that minorities are being murdered by police. Go ahead and try and name the ones that have come to light in the last 12 months, like the number of police organizations, this is also too numerous.

Colin Kaepernick became aware of these facts, and wanted to affect change. He decided the best way for him to continue the message that murdering minorities was wrong, was to kneel during the national anthem. He got the attention he was seeking, although it is arguable if that attention is actually accomplishing anything. People are currently more upset at pro / anti anthem then they are at minorities being murdered, which was the intended message all along.

Colin, and the rest of the players following suit, are exercising their American right not stand for forced patriotism (which in itself, is ironic). It is my opinion they are being more patriotic, then people who stand just because that is what they are supposed to do.

When I bought our first house a few years back, the past owners were military veterans and had a pole and flag in front, it reminded me of my Grandpa and I still fly it everyday. I am proud to fly the flag in my yard as I am a proud American. I will still stand for the anthem because I love doing it, and it sounds uncomfortable to kneel. I will also gladly stand with anybody who fights racism and injustice as those bring shame on the flag and our nation as a whole.