There has been much controversy surrounding our country’s flag lately. Not only do we have members of the NFL refusing to stand in honor of the flag, our own president and his wife have refused to put their hand on their heart during our Pledge of Allegiance. I can say that I have personally felt both sides of the controversy at hand. My patriotism for my country began at a young age for me. I was of the generation where we still said a prayer every morning to begin our day at school. It was then followed by the Pledge of Allegiance, and “The Star Spangled Banner”.
It was a morning like any other day, except it was my day to help lead the assembly in The Pledge of Allegiance, and sing the national anthem. I was in the third grade and we had an “open concept” room. Meaning, it was one big room with classrooms divided by partitions and cabinets. We were all in pretty close proximity and could hear what was going on in other classrooms. In the morning, three kids were selected to stand in the middle of the hall in the entire third grade, and lead in the pledge and the singing of the song after the prayer. It was my day and I was quite nervous. I did not like to stand out in a crowd, but loved the sound of the big assembly singing altogether. It was an amazing feeling, and I was determined to help lead as best I could.
As we were singing, something reached down, deep in my spirit and struck a chord within me that had never struck before, and tears just started streaming down my face. I kept singing and the tears kept rolling. I didn’t look at anyone; I just kept my eyes above the crowd. I was overwhelmed with patriotic emotion, something that had never happened before. I was somewhat of a misfit so I didn’t have to worry about anyone coming up to me and asking me about it. I just went on like it had not happened. However, it was a moment I will never forget. It was spiritual.
I had a phase later in life that had me questioning pledging allegiance to anything but God himself. I was a believer in conspiracy theories and I didn’t feel it was good to devote my allegiance to an entity that was so corrupt. I sat out many pledges during that time and did not stand up to the American Flag. It was a matter of years that I held to that belief. That belief soon wore off but I still had an indifference to the matter a few years later. I would say the pledge, but it was with little feeling and hardly any conviction. There was so much injustice in my world as well and that added to my stance.
One evening, I saw a video come across my Facebook feed that told the real story behind our flag and our national anthem. It was very eye opening experience and was quite convicting. It gave a whole other meaning to why we say our pledge and stand behind our country. I am free today, able to do what I want because someone else died to get me here. I am able to worship the way I want which is a big deal to me. I am not a Roman Catholic because the British did not win. There were men holding up that flag during a battle that would not give up. When they fell, someone else moved their body and continued holding up the flag. They did this all night long. Their lives were not in vain. The British did not win, the flag was still there. We are able to kneel at a Professional football game in protest and make light of the fallen men and women that gave their lives.
I have been on both sides of the coin, I have been moved for my country and I have felt anger at it. I have loved it, and I have hated it. At the end of the day, my “feelings” are not as important as the men and women who died tragically that day. They died so I could get up and go to work where I want, go to church where I want, succeed or fail in life, but nothing is forced upon me. That is the true definition of liberty and justice for all.