I like football. On those cold Monday nights in winter, it is what I like to do – watch Monday Night Football. I also like the red, white and blue flag that represents our country, the United States. I stand and cover my heart when it passes, and I stand and cover my heart when the National Anthem is played.
I stand when the flag passes or is posted and the National Anthem plays out of respect for those who have died on the many battlefields in our history so that I am privileged, among other things, to sit in a warm house on a cold winter night and watch Monday Night Football.
When I see those who choose not to stand, at first I think they are choosing not to honor those who have died. I realize, though, that this is probably not the case. It is more likely that they have a different interpretation of what the flag and the National Anthem mean.
To me, standing means honoring those who died in battle when I did not. I will stand to honor them for giving their lives until I can no longer stand. Then, I will honor them as best as I can as I sit. But that is my interpretation of what the flag and the National Anthem mean to me.
I once felt that all should stand, believing like me that the National Anthem and the flag represent all those who have died on the many blood-soaked battlefields in our history, and everybody should agree on that.
I harbored anger toward those who would not stand and honor those lost souls. I sincerely do not harbor that anger now as I write this. Each of us decides what the flag and the National Anthem means to us personally.
I have a friend, another Vietnam veteran, who does not stand for the flag or the National Anthem. He came home from Vietnam with one foot. He has anger in his heart, and I harbor no ill will toward him for not standing.
Still, another friend of mine, a man who lost both legs in Vietnam, would be the first to say that he gave up his legs so that people who do not wish to stand for the flag or the National Anthem do not have to stand. He would remind us all that he gave up his legs in defense of our Constitution, which assures that people have a right to speak up and to protest.
So, no, I am not still angry at those who do not stand to honor the flag and the National Anthem, and I try earnestly to understand what is that the flag and the National Anthem mean to them.
And on Monday nights, while cold winter winds howl outside my door, I sit comfortably with my wife, my dog and a warm cup of coffee, enjoying Monday Night Football, thankful for all that I have.