Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The day I stood up — by NOT standing up

In 2008 I attended a concert by the U.S. Army Field Band’s Jazz Ambassadors in Greensburg, a 45-minute drive from Pittsburgh. The last song was an arrangement of “God Bless the U.S.A.,” and everyone in the hall stood.

Except for me. It was nothing planned — given the history of racism in this country, I just couldn’t do so, not even for the military.

I thought of that in reference to San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who announced that he would no longer stand for the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” before games due to the racism that he sees as still being unaddressed. While he recognized people who served in the military, he just didn’t see the justice in it. His stance has upset a lot of people, especially military supporters,

Indeed, he said,  "This stand wasn’t for me — this is because I’m seeing things happen to people that don’t have a voice. People that don’t have a platform to talk and have their voices heard and affect change. I’m in a position where I can do that, and I'm gonna do that for people who can’t.”

And I get it, really.

You see, Kaepernick's biological father is black, and he says he's seen oppression of people of color.

More to the point, however, it's been my contention that the true patriot doesn't simply glorify his or her country; he or she points out its flaws so that they can be corrected.

Not for nothing does the last line of the Pledge of Allegiance read "with liberty and justice [emphasis mine] for all."

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