‘O’er the land of the free’

Our National Anthem was written by Francis Scott Key on September 13,1814 during the War of 1812. It was adopted as our National Anthem on March 3, 1931, by an act of Congress. At the time Key wrote the words “O’er the land of the free,” there were approximately 2 million slaves in what is now the United States. That number would increase to about 6 million at the time of the Civil War. This was certainly not the land of the free for the millions enslaved in 1814. In 1931, most black Americans could not vote, and were routinely lynched by the KKK in the South. Some believe the flag still doesn’t wave “O’er the land of the free,” for all Americans.

It’s not a great anthem, as anthems go. I’ve always thought “America the Beautiful” should be our anthem. I am not alone. “God shed his grace on thee, and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shinning sea.” Now that’s a great prayer.

In condemning NFL players who kneel during the Anthem, President Trump said our soldiers fought and died for the flag and our Anthem. Maybe he doesn’t like this form of protest, maybe you don’t, but exercising our Constitutional rights should be celebrated, not condemned.

I heard a veteran the other night on television say we weren’t fighting for a song or a piece of cloth, we were fighting for the soldier to our right and left, we were fighting for our life and theirs. I thought that was very poignant.

It’s more than just ironic, it’s hypocritical for President Trump to use the sacrifices made by our servicemen and women to make a point about NFL players kneeling during the anthem. The players were protesting the inequality in our justice system and police brutality. At the same time the president mocked and ridiculed a true war hero, Sen. John McCain for his healthcare vote. John McCain, while a prisoner in North Vietnam was told he could go home, but he refused unless his men could also go home.

A true hero indeed. Sen. Lindsay Graham who co-authored the McCain/Cassidy healthcare measure, said this; “Sen. McCain was willing to give his life for his country, he can vote any way he chooses.” It should be noted that Donald Trump used five exemptions to keep from being drafted. A true draft dodger.

I’ve always believed, except for Vietnam, that we fought wars to protect our way of life and preserve rights we have under the Constitution. One of those rights, upheld by the ultra-conservative Justice Antonio Scalia and the Court, was to burn the American flag in protest. Going down on one knee during the National Anthem seems very mild in comparison.

I am not ashamed of Colin Kaepernick, who played for University of Nevada, Reno. He wasn’t protesting the flag or the Anthem, he was protesting racial profiling and the brutality by police against black Americans. Now, don’t be so ignorant as to claim this problem doesn’t exist. It does. As long as it does this is not the “land of free,” for everybody.

President Trump said his condemnation was not about race. Nonsense, it was all about race. Does he deny the injustices by law enforcement that Kaepernick was protesting? If he does, he’s a bigger fool than I thought. Soldiers of color fought and died defending this country, only to come home to be brutalized by law enforcement. That’s not what they fought and died for Mr. President.

President Trump defended the right of Nazis and the KKK to march in Charlottesville, exercising their right of free speech. But, football players who exercise their rights by simply dropping to one knee during the Anthem are an embarrassment. You are the embarrassment, Mr. President.

It’s not the flag, but what it stands for that we should defend with our very last breath. It stands for the right to protest, among other rights. Without protest there would not be a United States, we would still be a British colony.

Police violence against minorities must end. It shouldn’t be denied or ignored by the President and many white Americans, especially Trump’s supporters .Instead of recognizing what Kaepernick was protesting, Trump called him an SOB and said “fire him.” Must we all refuse to stand for the National Anthem until injustice against black Americans ends? If we must, I will..

There’s no law that says we must stand for our Anthem. There is a law, the Constitution, that protects our right to protest by not standing, or kneeling during the National Anthem. I wish our President would read that document.

Glen McAdoo, a Fallon resident can be contacted at glynn@phonewave.net.


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