My American Flag

I was recently asked by someone very close to me, if from a viewpoint of someone who served in the military, a meme of someone kneeling to promote their cause during the National Anthem bothered me.

Spoiler Alert: Yes

I believe it is a little hard for the average person to appreciate what that starred and striped piece of cloth hanging in every city in America stands for. The fact that it does stand in every city in American should elude to the sanctity of that piece of cloth, but that seems to be easily dismissed by other endeavors. 

Having spent four years serving in the United States Navy, I stood many hours staring at those stars and stripes, hearing every note and singing every word of the National Anthem and feeling unexplainable pride while goosebumps covered my body. And on occasion when I was in the right mood, at the right time, brought a tear down my cheek in front of a hundred other guys, knowing that just a few of us military men and women were out there as a continual presence around the world, in many cases risking our lives unquestionably, to keep EVERY American safe and to protect the American way. Pride, honor and respect became encapsulated in that red white & blue cloth.

My American flag does not represent those past American’s who have hated, harmed and killed. My American flag does not represent those past American’s who have supported or owned slaves of any ethnicity or creed. My American flag does not represent those American’s who have used their freedom to support racism, bigotry and hatred. My American flag does not represent greed or supremacy. My American flag does not represent any one person or group.

My American flag stands for every American that is a member of society and is doing their part to make this country a better place and respecting their fellow American. Whether making life-changing decisions at the government or corporate level or working a minimum wage job paying taxes, My American flag represents them and their freedom to be as successful as they choose to pursue and can achieve. And those free-spirits that choose to live off the land, off the grid and interact with no-one, it stands for them too. 

When that starred and striped flag is above me and the national anthem is being played, I will stand tall, hold my hand over my heart and give it the full attention and respect that I believe it deserves. That same symbol flew above every service member past and present that swore their oath to give their time, talent and sometimes life so that it can be hung high above us all to protect our inalienable rights. Out of the love for my country and the freedom it provides every American, I will not support any action that blocks country solidarity, by putting ANY cause or agenda above that symbol of country unification. This DOES NOT mean I do not support or believe in those other causes or disregard their importance, it simply means I will not put any endeavors, no matter how meaningful, before my country during those few revered moments.

Until my country takes away the very rights it has given to me and all its’ citizens, My American flag will forever trump my agendas, movements, causes and endeavors that it allows me to have.

Steve Giunto, USN, 91-’95