What So Proudly We Hail
As I stood with my hand over my heart, staring up at the American flag waving in the distance as the Star-Spangled Banner played prior to the start of a local high school football game the other night, I asked myself what it meant to honor our flag and anthem like that these days. In light of professional and Olympic athletes kneeling, and disrespecting the American flag and anthem, because they believe they are symbols of the injustices committed in our nation’s history, what message does the act of honoring our flag and anthem really convey?
I thought about the disastrous ways in which our newly “elected” leaders are running our country, the anti-American, and anti-Constitutional decisions and policies that the Biden administration is implementing, and I questioned if my standing meant that I approve of what Joe Biden is doing. Is my standing for the flag supporting his decision to open the southern border to illegal immigrants and drug cartels? Or his surrender in Afghanistan leaving hundreds of American citizens, and billions of dollars of weapons behind? Or his mishandling of Covid pandemic and vaccines? Or his shutting down the Keystone XL pipeline? Or his insistence to turn every American institution “woke”? Or any of his other 55 Executive Orders? Is my honoring of the flag an approval of all of Biden’s catastrophic and tragic decisions he has made since January 20, 2021?
Of course not. Standing for the flag means that I am honoring everything the flag represents, the principles, and ideals written in our founding documents. It is not an approval of the numerous times throughout our history that our leaders and citizens acted in direct violation of those ideals and principles. Showing respect for our flag, does not mean I agree with and support everything our country has done past and present, rather it is an endorsement of the ideals that our flag stands for, and our country strives for.
As Civil War General, and US Senator Carl Schur said, “Ideals are like the stars: we never reach them, but like the mariners of the sea, we chart our course by them.” Even though we as a nation have never fully lived up to and realized the principles and ideals in our Constitution, we chart our nation’s course by them. That is why it is important to take a moment from time to time to stand and respect the flag, and in doing so honor the ideals for which the flag stands.
So, in fact, standing and honoring the American flag in and of itself is a protest against, and a repudiation of the anti-American, anti-Constitutional actions of Joe Biden and his administration, not much different than the last scene in the movie, The Deer Hunter, where the people in the bar whose lives had been destroyed by the Vietnam War sang, God Bless America. That was not an approval of what America was in that moment in time, but a re-affirmation of what America could and was meant to be for all time. So, my standing for the flag was an act of standing up against all of the unconstitutional acts that the Biden administration, and any other past administrations have committed in our history.
The actions of our leaders in the past and present are temporal, while the ideals and the principles in our Constitution are transcendent. That is why it is such a grave threat to allow our elected leaders to violate our Constitution. Never allow the temporal to negate the transcendent. Our founders, and the framers of our Constitution were temporal beings who through a stroke of genius, thought and acted transcendently while penning our Constitution. They were able to go beyond their specific time and culture to forge documents that transcended the time and place in which they lived, and that is why many of them failed to live up to these transcendent ideals that they themselves so eloquently articulated.
So, when people point to the sins of our nation’s past to discredit us as a nation, it is incorrect and even disingenuous because every evil act in our history directly contradicted the United States Constitution, the American flag, and the very foundation of our country; owning slaves disrespected our flag; implementing Jim Crow disrespected our flag; a cop illegally shooting an unarmed citizens disrespects our flag. So, kneeling or turning your back on the flag is a rejection of all that the flag represents, and it is aligning yourself with all those people throughout our history whose evil deeds also disrespected the flag. It is a tacit approval of all injustices, and human rights violations past and present.
But kneeling for the flag was never meant to be a stand against injustice, it was always a way to sow division in our country in the name of “social justice”, no different than the NFL playing the so-called “Black National Anthem” before each game. It is meant to divide, to destroy because you cannot have two National Anthems; it’s a contradiction of terms. Having two National Anthems is like having two quarterbacks; if you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterbacks. Likewise, if you have two National Anthems, you have no National Anthems, and if you do not have unifying symbols like a National Flag and Anthem, you will soon not have a country. And a world without the United States of America, a world without the ideals and principles the American Flag represents, a world without the one country where those suffering injustice and oppression turn to and flee to, will be a world overflowing with injustice and oppression.
Judd Garrett is a graduate from Princeton University, and a former NFL player, coach, and executive. He has been a contributor to the website Real Clear Politics. He has recently published his first novel, No Wind.