What the flag means

What the flag means

Please understand that I see the flag and the national anthem disrespected each week during football season.

I watch people as they walk through the parking lot while it is being played and do not stop.

Because, apparently, you can only stand at attention while INSIDE the stadium and being three feet outside of the fence, or underneath the stands, means you can carry on with your conversation.

I watch kids continually play around and talk.

It’s like we are immune to our national anthem because we have heard it throughout our lifetime.

I get that.

But, it’s really not hard to stand still for 90-ish seconds and pay your respects to the millions who have served our country, allowing us freedoms.

The flag that we have seen from the image of 9/11 is the same flag that was sewed together in 1776.

That flag has seen more things than you and I can count.

But, let’s give it a shot.

Our flag has seen:

¯ Slavery and its abolition

¯ Pride and prejudice

¯ The assassinations of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, John Lennon, Mahatma Gandhi, Malcom X,, Lee Harvey Oswald and Bobby Kennedy.

¯ Hatred and love

¯ Social injustice and social awareness

¯ Multiple wars

¯ Everything

Yet, it still waves.

And, now, it has seen Colin Kaepernick, and other, sit down or kneel while our national anthem is being played.

The flag does not represent a perfect world because there will never be one.

Our flag represents the attack on Pearl Harbor and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Our flag represents 50 states and 13 original colonies.

It represents Fort Sumter and Fort McHenry.

It represents the Boston Tea Party, the Civil War and the black power movement.

Our flag represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith.

It represents Pat Tillman.

And, it represents guys like me who had zero taste to ever join the military.

My father and uncle were in the Army.

I still have a flag of my dad’s from his time at the beck and call of our country.

The Red, White and Blue represents Columbine, Orlando, Blacksburg, Newtown, Killeen, San Ysidro, San Bernardino, Edmond, Fort Hood, Binghamton and Aurora.

The flag represents our freedom to burn it, stomp on it and not stand at attention to it.

The flag represents what is wrong in the United States and what is right.

It represents two towers and the one that stands there now.

Congress passes several acts during 183 years that changed the flag.

But, it has always represented us.

All of us.

Every skin color.

Every neighborhood.

Every bigot and every person filled with hate.

This country needs to be better in a lot of ways.

Just look at our presidential election and we can see that clear as can be.

The flag represents our ability to stand at any sporting event and make a complete fool of ourselves, whether alcohol is involved or not.

Our Stars and Stripes represents every police officer who has been killed by ambush and every police officer who is bad to the core.

It represents those who are discriminated against, and those who are spending every waking hour trying to eliminate discrimination.

Our flag represents Billy Graham and Al Sharpton.

The draft dodgers — it represents them, too.

It represents Cassius Clay (later Muhammed Ali), Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and David Duke.

The flag represents passions on all sides, throughout every star and stripe.

You can understand why people told Kaepernick that if he didn’t like or respect the flag, to leave.

The flag, like sports, beings out a passion.

But, it also can spark conversations.

If that’s what Kapernick wanted — to start a conversation — he did.

Now, it’s time to keep the conversation going — while standing for the national anthem.

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. He can be contacted at mmathison@heraldstaronline.com and followed on Twitter @HSDTsports)

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