By John Lynds
Over the course of this Nation’s history the American Flag has stood for many things.
In its infancy it stood for revolt against England. It stood for the possibilities of a new and better country. It stood for democracy and freedom.
However, throughout the course of history the Flag has meant different things to different people and has conjured complex emotions for different groups.
In the early 1800s to the Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Chickasaw and Choctaw, tens of thousands who died during the Trail of Tears, the Flag represented an abusive unjust government that encroached on their ancestral homelands.
But the ‘Indian Removal Act” and subsequent series of forced removals of Native tribes was the policy of the government that operated under the Flag.
Then, from Reconstruction to the Civil Rights Movement, the Flag flew over a Nation bitter by a Civil War, but blind to the daily struggle of African Americans living in the South and forced to accept a policy of ‘Separate But Equal’. While the Flag flew over every capital and city hall in Dixie, the oppression of the African American man, woman and child was happening under her unfurled stars and stripes for a century.
There are moments in our history that have put numerous blemishes on what is arguably considered the most recognizable symbol of freedom.
But it has not always stood for freedom–at least not all but freedom for some.
We, as a Nation have tried to correct these wrongs, wipe the blemishes of the past from the Flag and reach a crossroads where the path we are to take is better than the road we were once on.
The brave men and woman of our armed forces fight everyday around the world for the Flag, for freedom, for a better world.
They do it not because of what the Flag represents on the surface but to improve the Nation below it.
See the Flag, and what it represents, or has represented, is the constant evolution of this Nation.
It’s a continuously changing narrative whose end has not yet been written.
So if you see someone kneeling during the National Anthem do not question their patriotism.
Instead, ask yourself what is going on right now under the Flag across the lands of this Nation that is wrong or unjust.
They are not kneeling to oppose a fallen soldier, a Gold Star Mother or the America that you may imagine.
Perhaps, at this juncture in our Nation’s story, those who kneel might be more patriotic than their critics–for those who kneel believe a wrong needs to be corrected while those who criticize are repeating a past mistake that the Nation is perfect.
In the final analysis the Flag represents a great but flawed Nation with a complicated history and sordid past.
But it is up to us to help write the future passages of America’s story, right the wrongs of the past and heel the wounds of injustice now.
If we can’t do these difficult but necessary things, the Flag will symbolize nothing more than the failed experiment of a Nation that came up short in reaching its full potential.
That, to me, is more insulting than a NFL player kneeling.