I’ve always loved football. Not in an obsessed, win-every-fantasy-football-draft kind of way–but in a way that reminds me of hot wings, time with my dad growing up with a bowl of chips and green and blue jerseys, and now cheering and high-fiving and cuddling on the couch with my husband watching the same team.
The Seahawks are part of my Seattle culture–so this sucks to say.
But I’m disappointed in them.
I’m disappointed in all of the NFL teams and individual players who are choosing to kneel or camp out in locker rooms when the national anthem plays and the flag is raised.
It’s not because I don’t love football.
It’s because I love my country more.
And the sad part? People just don’t get that it’s warped, disgusting, and a pure OUTRAGE to see it any other way.
So before I fold up my jersey until further notice, I wanted to take to my blog. Tonight on social media I posted this:
I know, I’m mouthy. Always have been, hence the reason I’m a blogger. I like to talk, I like to listen, and I like to learn. And comments rarely bother me because I find it fascinating how different we all are. So I wasn’t surprised when the comments *per usual* flowed in. Lots of comments supported my stance, and lots didn’t. I found it most ironic that the people who pounced on the status to label me as a bigot, uneducated, ignorant, or unwilling to see the social issues around me were clearly acting in a way that stood in stark contrast to what they wanted to represent. And that, right there, is where the problem lies.
This is the reason I look at those players kneeling on the sod and say to them–GET UP.
Come out of that locker room. Lift up your head. Get your knee off the ground and pick up your helmet. Come off of social media, put down your phone, toss your lofty stances and your prideful campaigns and step off the high horse. Let me remind you of something so many of us have forgotten. Let me take us back.
Oh, say can you see,
By the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed,
At the twilight’s last gleaming?
It was dawn when I heard the news. I was only 11–but I learned that day in 2001 what hate is. I remember sitting in my 6th grade classroom watching the television, a pencil in my hand as I doodled the American flag a million times, wondering why so many people hated us. I watched people fall from the towers, helpless in the ash. I watched firefighters carrying their dead canines and lifeless children. I saw men with briefcases bloodied and scared and women crying with only one heel on. I remember writing the first poem I was ever to write in that classroom–the first poem that literally launched my career in writing. I remember feeling the tears come as I realized that although I never visited New York and may never visit it soon–those people were MY people. They were Americans. And the smoke, the ash–the tears…it moved my pencil. It moved my heart. It gave new meaning when I would stand, even years down the road, to salute our flag.
Whose broad stripes and bright stars,
Through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched,
Were so gallantly streaming.
For most of my life, starting on that day–we have fought. I’ve watched the news, I’ve worked for it. I’ve seen us unite over terrorist attacks and then forget that unity as we viciously tear mosques apart and condemn those who are different than us. I’ve seen selfless kindness and I’ve seen horrific violence. I’ve been the generation that has been fed media hype and social (or more like unsocial) media ignorance. I come from the group of kids that grew up thinking that sharpie marker on poster boards, social media posts, tweets, and trendy political stances will change the world all while burning flags and living off of the very government that we so fight against. It’s a perfect irony–a terrifying circle of complaining, forgetting, and digging our heels into the blood-soaked earth that offers us freedom and a platform to speak while we scurry up on to the platform just to condemn the very people who allowed it to be there.
Ironic. Right? It’s biting the very hand that feeds you. And yet–we keep doing it.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t have the freedom to stand for change and to find ways to protest the things that oppress us. But why use avenues that directly disrespect those fighting for those rights to do so? It is a paradox.
And the rocket’s red glare,
The bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night,
That our flag was still there.
But on that same token–the flag manages to stay. Regardless of your opinion. Regardless of mine. Regardless of the president’s.
Since that day in my 6th grade classroom I’ve heard presidents who speak in minced words and I’ve done the research on the hate crimes and the horrific racism, sexism, and bigotry that plague our nation. I’ve watched laws change and the constitution stand on the brink of collapse and I’ve seen the graves of soldiers get desecrated and vandalized. I’ve watched tears stream from eyes as wounded vets get medals of honor and as the national anthem is sung before games and in turn I’ve seen athletes kneel in protest and I’ve seen Antifa and Neo-Nazi groups and college undergrads with words on their skin hold confederate flags and spit on our name. Just like you–I’ve seen just about everything.
But there it is. The flag. It’s held together still–despite what you have to say–with the blood of those who decided that they just couldn’t stand by and watch it all burn. It’s stitched together by sacrifice. Bravery. Thousands of miles walked by tired feet, heavy hearts, men without their wives and children without their parents. It waves because of troops who blink through the rain and sleep in the snow and live their lives without legs because they saved their friends. It’s still there because of people who decide to hold on and fight for ideals, rather than accepting the fate of oppression.
The flag still waves because of the multiple battles, ferocious outcries, and activists who put action to their words and stood by the constitution with ferocity and passion.
Despite your opinion and despite mine, we both need to stand for THAT at least.
I know there are issues that need to be dealt with. There is hate and bigotry and ignorance. There are people who still sleep outside without dinner and children mounded in the foster care system. There are women who encounter sexism and people of color who get called names that should have died before they were ever even spoken aloud. But that should give us even more reason to stand. Fighting to be better–fighting to be kinder, stronger, more accepting, more involved. THAT is why we stand. The anthem represents the greater good we all seek, despite the road blocks we encounter while getting there.
Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave,
For the land of the free, and the home of the brave.
When I stand for the flag, I am 11 years old again.
I am standing in the ash of two New York towers, reminded of the dust we rose from and the men and women who decided I was worth a fighting chance. I stand in awe that there are women all over the world who cover their face and aren’t allowed to speak unless spoken to–yet I hold a degree from a university and work in a high rise in my own office and am allowed to wear what I want and say what I want and raise my daughter to do the same.
When I stand for the anthem I am reminded of Francis Scott Key, who felt inspired to pen a tribute to the flag that he saw flapping in the wind as the smoke from gunfire and explosives settled and the dawn’s early light reminded him, there on the ship, that it was our American flag—not the British Union Jack—flying over the fort, announcing an American victory. This anthem was literally the product of someone’s beautiful reminder that amidst the battle of night, we keep going forward. And we fight to be free.
I am reminded that there are watchmen as I sleep who float on the horizon and on the coastlines, ready to protect me without a minute’s warning. I am reminded that regardless of the heinous words our president speaks or the ignorance of congress, there is a majority of us who truly want to love; who want to work toward equality and betterment. There is a plethora of soldiers and humanitarians and missionaries and teachers and activists who stitch our flag in colors of bravery, remarkable innovation, and second chances.
When I stand, I stand for all America has promised me–and for the life it so desperately seeks to continue to give me.
When you kneel–you are forgetting.
You are forgetting that star spangled banner that has been soaked in the blood of all colors and has stood by the rights of all religions. You are forgetting the country that has promised that although we have far to go–we have still traveled so far.
And yet, at the end of the day, regardless of where you kneel–that flag still stands tall.
And it stands for you—
Whether you stand or not.