Saluting Our Flag, Our Nation
Today is Flag Day, on which really thoughtful Americans pay homage not to a mere piece of red, white and blue fabric, but to our nation for which it stands.
But now also is another of the times in our history when critics of our government commit the error of assuming the flag represents it and it alone.
Others are not in error. They know full well the flag stands for the American people — and they have contempt for us.
A great deal of misunderstanding surrounds many controversies that concern the flag and protests against government in general. One has been on display again during recent weeks.
Last year, some professional football players knelt as the national anthem was played and the flag was raised before their games began. They insisted they had the right to do that.
This year, the National Football League has decreed that if players feel the need to protest, they may remain off the field until after the anthem is played. If they choose to come out on the field, team owners may require them to stand.
That is an infringement upon the players’ First Amendment rights, some of their supporters say.
It is no such thing. Professional sports teams are businesses. They are entitled to require that their employees not behave in a manner that turns customers, fans at games in this case, away. The Supreme Court has ruled that such controls by businesses are perfectly compatible with the First Amendment. It is not the government limiting their right to protest, after all.
And if it is the government with which the players and other critics wish to demonstrate their displeasure, whey do they disrespect the flag? Why do others tear Old Glory to pieces, stomp on it, even burn it?
Perhaps they really do dislike the more than 320 million of us who are their fellow Americans.
Or, again, they may not comprehend that the flag does not stand for any government. It is a symbol of us as a nation.
And who are we? We are a people who in the past have made many mistakes, both of the head and the heart. We are a people who continue to err.
But the overwhelming majority of Americans are good-hearted people. Anyone who doubts that has not bothered to know us.
We are people who understand our nation is not perfect, but who are determined to make it better, as did our ancestors.
No other people on the face of the earth devotes as much of what we Americans earn to helping others, both here and abroad. No other people anguishes as we do over the rights of others. No other people wants peace as much as we do.
Our flag stands for our nation, both as we are and as we hope to be.
Today, then, ought to be a day to salute Old Glory. Long may she wave!