Anthem Abberations


Our national anthem. I don’t do a lot of opinion pieces. It’s not that I don’t have my opinion on things, because if you know me at all you know I have opinions. I try to keep this site instructional. It’s not that I’m afraid of alienating the fans of the site. Most shooters are fairly like-minded, and this is a gun-related website. And if I do offend and alienate someone, well, this probably wasn’t the site for them to begin with. So today I’m going to use the bully pulpit and punch out a dose of opinion.

Feel free to agree or disagree with me. I’m not looking for debate. This is my opinion after all, and I’m not looking for someone to try and change it. I’m just stating my position. That said…

The recent controversy about what certain public figures are doing during the playing of our national anthem is disturbing. Those of you who know me are doubtlessly expecting a screed demonizing them. Prepare to be disappointed.

While there are many in the country these days who would have you believe otherwise, our founding fathers actually knew what they were doing. Having broken free from the bonds of tyranny, and fully realizing that human nature being what it is the possibility existed for tyranny to rear its ugly head in our own newly formed government, they drafted a few pieces of paper to address it. They refined this stance against the possibility of tyranny over the course of a few years, and amended our newly inked constitution. The first ten amendments constituted the Bill of Rights and listed specific prohibitions on the power of the government.

The very first amendment in this Bill of Rights specified the following: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Let’s take the part of that this post is concerned with. “or abridging the freedom of speech” This has been interpreted to include not just the spoken word, but encompasses writings and actions as well. And this is where the disappointment by those who know me comes in. People have the right to do as they please during the national anthem, be it kneeling, raising a fist, or whatever other display they feel is appropriate. A long line of brave men and women in uniform have fought and died to guarantee our rights. They have done so without regard to how the people handed those rights exercise them.

This is not to say I agree with the current displays in any way, shape, or form. I merely acknowledge their right to conduct themselves in the manner of their choosing. I don’t like it, refuse to support their methods, and will make it a point to not advance their wealth by refusing to purchase anything they represent or endorse. Defiling our flag, not standing for the national anthem, these acts are reprehensible to me. But the right of people to do this is guaranteed. I know that my criticism of the current administration is considered reprehensible by others. See, that’s me exercising MY first amendment rights. But this isn’t really what this post is about.

What I aim to do through this lengthy use of words is bring a centering to those who read them. I have questions that I hope will spur conversations and feedback through the comments section following this that may help me, and others, understand our current mindset in America.

My first question is “When did we as a people take the opinions of the people who make a living playing games, starring in movies, or sitting on a television set as the gospel we should believe in when it comes to matters of policy?” This confuses me, as “movie stars”, “sports heroes”, and talk show hosts are as pretty far removed from the trappings of everyday life as you could possibly get. Why then are the opinions of Matt Damon, Cher, or Kaepernik given such gravity? What, exactly, have they contributed to this great nation that warrants us listening to them on any subject other than music, acting, or sports?

My second question is “Why have we forgotten those who have provided us with the freedoms that we have?” Or, more correctly, why have we never even heard of them? In the praragraph above, you all knew who I was talking about. No one needed to search Google for them as they’re household names. Try this starting lineup: Johannes Anderson, Donald Gary, Melvin Newlin, and Salvatore Giunta. Ring any bells with you? How about if I give you their positions? First Sergeant Johannes Anderson, Lieutenant JG Donald Gary, Private First Class Melvin Newlin, and Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta. Anything yet? I’ll save to the effort of Googling them. They all received the Medal of Honor for their actions in combat. Men and women like them advance opinions on different topics here in America, but where is the weight afforded them?

And what about our nations’ law enforcement officers, firefighters, first responders, and anyone else who provides protection or service to the public with little or no recognition or appreciation? Do we ignore them because they’re not making vast sums of money, lack celebrity and fame, don’t live in mansions?

Many of you can name the entire starting lineup of a baseball, football, basketball, etc. team. You can probably even provide stats for individual players. Why was this important enough to not only look up, but to memorize? Do you know the stories of the Medal of Honor recipients? How about some currently serving politicians? Tammy Duckworth is a U.S. Representative for the state of Illinois. She’s also a combat-wounded veteran helicopter pilot. How many of you know her story?

See, I was raised to consider a different type of hero. What someone does on the gridiron, on stage, on the big or small screen, well, they’re doing that for themselves. What someone does with their life, up to and including giving it, for others, to me that’s the measure of a hero. Selflessness, duty to country, and the understanding that there is a higher purpose than self-aggrandizement make me pay attention to someone’s stance.

This has been a long way to get to my final question “How can someone demand respect when they themselves refuse to show it?” It’s a simple matter to stand quietly for the short duration of the national anthem. The claim that by doing so shows support is fallacious. It’s not support, it’s simple respect. And it seems that the voices crying the loudest for respect are the ones being the most disrespectful of others. So how do we turn this ship around, recognize each other as individuals who may hold different viewpoints, yet come together as a nation for the greater good?


The Tactical Pirate

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President and lead instructor. Follow me on Twitter, and check out our blog.

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