Anthem does not define patriotism

I am 77 years old and nearing the exit. I'm an American by accident of birth. I'm a veteran because I had no choice. When I was a kid, we were forced to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in school.

When I was 14 the words "under God" were inserted. It threw the rhythm off. We had just figured out that it was "one nation indivisible" and not "invisible." I don't sing that grand old English drinking song that is the National Anthem because it is un-sing-able. I was taught to stand for the anthem, salute and leave your hat on if you are in uniform and hand on heart for the pledge, but I was also taught that it was not a requirement of citizenship or patriotism. Social coercion, wild gestures and nasty looks now force everyone to rise in solemn conformity, hands over hearts for Lee Greenwood's cash cow "God Bless The U.S.A."

When I was in the Navy and whenever we left Pearl Harbor for the open sea, we passed the U.S.S. Arizona and rendered silent honors and quiet tears to the 1,200 men trapped below. After that experience, all the loud "patriotism" and flag-waving is gratuitous nonsense.

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Graham Thatcher

Rapid City

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