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A Flag Born of Protest Endures

Patriots take a knee

After having endured another round of ham-fisted divisive remarks by our chief executive – designed to bring more heat than light to the complicated issues we need to wrestle with as a country – I went searching for some light. I found it in Bob Costa (video).

Once again, Mr. C. showed why he is among the best in his business.

While speaking to the "kneeling during the anthem" issue he gave the type of greater overview which we all need to keep in mind before getting all pissed off.

After listening to him, it only reinforced a few things that I have long believed.

The flag is stronger than your opinion of it. The flag is more resilient than whatever sensitivity you have about what others may or may not do with it. The flag is strong enough to stand up to someone taking a knee. The flag can take it. In fact, the flag requires it.

The flag is a symbol created out of protest and it continues to evolve as successive individuals wrap themselves in it. It will endure whatever righteous human challenge needs to be better embraced. And will be used by anyone who finds themselves caught in the tangle of disrespect and marginalization, whether by system or institution. Our flag is a reminder not just of who we were, but more importantly, who we can become. All of us.

For those who would make a case about honoring those who have served: I served. It was my great honor and I did it because I felt I owed this country something. As a Black man in America I am too often reminded of why my people have struggled. So much fear and derision has been bred by individuals who cannot or will not embrace the deepest human values that I believe the flag represents. Through my service, I learned more about myself and about people from places that I could never have imagined. That, in part, was why I chose to serve and my service only made my belief in what the flag represents stronger. But the flag does not just belong to the military and service takes many forms, – as Mr. C. so adeptly pointed out.

Our flag is precious, but only to the extent that we are willing to see the beauty of what we can become through it. We are far from perfect as a people and as a country. And if we are not willing to see the imperfections and defects in the things we profess to love then that love is dysfunctional. What many seem to want to avoid when they see one group or another standing up, sitting down, walking out, or taking a knee is that this is the foundation of what the flag is all about. They are the societal physicians who have taken on the task of addressing our social illness. It takes courage and sacrifice. I cannot imagine there were many among them who wanted all the harsh attention that came with their decision to kneel. Those individuals are engaged in the same process that created the flag: practicing the medicine to cure the human spirit.

It is easy to criticize from the sideline (no pun intended) those things that make you uncomfortable. For those, even at the highest levels, who would complain about individuals peacefully exercising the very rights that so many fought and died for, that just seems to me to be an exercise in irony that boggles my mind.

It seems to me that you have made the symbol too precious, you have made it into something which it does not represent.

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