I am not pleased with the NFL nor the response of NFL owners and coaches. I am not against their ‘right’ to protest. I may agree with them what they are protesting. Just not at that time, that place, in that manner. For me it is about time, place, and respect.
It is only for a few moments when it is requested of us to stand to give tribute to the young men and women who have and do sacrifice of themselves for us, to dedicate ourselves to the preservation of liberty, to acknowledge the documents that formed our nation and gave us liberties few in this world of turmoil have. We are not perfect. But we are not inadequate. We have been on a long road forming our “more perfect union”.
I see no tribute to the Unknown Athlete. What I see is “look at me, don’t look at the flag, ignore the national anthem, pay no attention to the men and women in uniform bearing the symbol of our national pride”.
When we were attacked on 911 it was not football players with all their strength, agility, and millions, that ran up the steps of burning, collapsing buildings. It was ordinary men and women trained and not to retreat, not to punt, but to charge forward in the face of unknown danger to save the trapped, the injured, the weak.
We use words too easily. Too casually. Some words have been taken from us never to be used again for their intended purpose. I will take my liberties as such.
Do sports figures donate money and time to our community charities? Yes they do. And that is admirable and appreciated. Is it respectful? Probably. Is it honorable? No. It is not. Who says so? I do.
Honor is a word reserved to those who put their lives on the line. Sacrifice begets honor. Not a donation. You sacrifice a lamb. You donate time, objects and money. Any amount of money is a donation. A penny, a dollar, all my wealth. A life given in valor is honor. Respect life, honor sacrifice.
It is bad enough that many like me never served; can we not at least for one moment honor those who have and still do serve? Even if there is no Honor Guard present their blood is represented in our flag. We either honor that fact or the blood is on us.
I understand that social issues can at times put otherwise good people on different sides of an issue while at the same time neither is wrong except for time and place.
In front of our service men and women football players ‘take a knee’. Our men and women in the military gave a knee.
We as civilians have no cause so important, so self-righteous, as to have the temerity to present, to disrupt, the honor of our military men and women directly or indirectly by their blood represented by our flag. Our service men and women present themselves before us only asking for our respect, but these athletes try to turn it into a circus of cause for their own benefit. The indignity of the absurd.
By sacrifice a right has been given. Will they, these highly paid and admired entertainers, by way of moral obligation defer to that sacrifice?
For a few moments can they not honor our country for the freedoms they have? Can they not honor those who sacrificed to give them that freedom? They usurp the moment to draw attention to themselves and distract everyone from the purpose of that moment.
They talk of unity. The ceremony of our flag, pledge of allegiance, national anthem, armed service members who may be there for the presentation IS that unity. They, the NFL, broke that unity.
They can still protest. They can even hold or stand under our flag. But do not draw attention to yourself during a ceremonial presentation. Join the rest of us, show respect; honor those who have served, who have sacrificed of blood and life for our freedoms.
Fight for the freedoms you believe are being denied at another time at another place. Bond when the time is ripe. Protest when the time is right. The flag still gives you that right. The Constitution still gives you that right. The Bill of Rights still gives you that right. Exercise that right with discretion and you will achieve more.
I’m sure there are service men and women who would say it is the right of the NFL to protest. Fine, they defer. But isn’t that what adults do when children throw a tantrum? Remember when Mom would say, “Not now honey, we’ll talk later.”
Don’t attack the fortress of freedom that gives you rights. Defend the fortress. Take with you those rights outside the fortress and fight for those who do not enjoy what you have. But return to the fortress of freedom and defend it. Honor by way of the traditions we have established this great nation, its’ flag, and those among us who sacrifice of time, family, life and limb. Stand today. Kneel tomorrow.
With rights come obligations. They should honor, for one moment out of their incredibly rich lives, those who gave them these rights and exercise them at an appropriate time not a convenient time. Even those of us who are not so incredibly rich are at least rich in the values bestowed upon us through the Bill of Rights, our Constitution, and the lives given that are represented in our flag.
Our is not me. It is you and me. It is we. We are a polynomial. Solve the equation. We have enough variables already.
A Time for Everything
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.