This is a guest post submitted by Lena Shipley of Waterloo:
I am not a football fan but have always been deeply moved by the opening of every game. Strong, warrior-like men standing tall with their hand over their heart during the singing of the National Anthem. Yesterday, NFL teams across America chose to use their rights under the first amendment to silently protest against racial injustice and President Trump by kneeling, locking arms in solidarity or remaining in their locker rooms during the National Anthem.
Penned by Francis Scott Key, after the War of 1812, the Star Spangled Banner is an ode to resilience and victory over hatred and injustice. During the British war fleet’s unmerciful barrage against Fort Henry, it would seem that the flag over the Fort would fall in surrender. But the prisoners of war prayed all through the night “God keep that flag flying where we last saw it.” Hour after hour the flag flew over the rampart as the shelling continued. As dawn approached and shelling ceased, the flag still stood in shreds. The pole was bent but the flag remained despite repetitious direct hits. The men held up that pole until they died. As George Washington said, “The Christian will die on his feet before he’ll live on his knees.” It was the bodies of the patriots that held up that flag.
I am one among many who have been insulted that the NFL used a sacred moment and the world stage to protest. Their right to protest should have been conducted in a more appropriate manner at a different time. Our National Anthem reminds us of the resilience, bravery and faith that is our heritage as citizens of these United States. The NFL protest is an insult to all the men and women who gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy.
Let us continue, like the patriots of the War of 1812, to hold up the bent flagpole, rise up against hatred through kindness, forgiveness and love and:
Praise the power that hath made and preserved us as a nation! Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, and this be our motto: “In God is our trust”. And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave. (Francis Scott Key)