My Turn: Kneeling in the “home of the brave”

For the Monitor
Monday, October 02, 2017

Written as a poem in 1814, it became the national anthem in 1931.

The last line says, “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” you know, just before “play ball.”

Well, in 1814, a segment of the population who only accounted for three-fifths of a census population were not free.

And in 1931 there were still 33 years to go before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made them full voting citizens.

Which brings us to 2017, when many of their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren do not feel safe in the streets of their cities from representatives of the law enforcement of the nation to which that anthem is sung.

I wonder if some Americans are still waiting for “the land of the free” part.

I, myself, could not kneel during the playing of the National Anthem. Back in my middle school days, I did have a problem with saying “The Pledge” every morning, because the words didn’t seem to mean much in the sixties; until, while looking at that “flag for which it stands,” I made myself think, to get a mental picture, of the Patriots, not the football team but the ones who fought and suffered and won the War of Independence that made that “flag for which it stands” ours, and therefore, our commitment to extend “liberty and justice for all,” even today in America.

Which brings me to “the home of the brave.” Some people did not kneel before the King of England. They stood, although they were only a third of the colonial population of 1776. Another third, decried those who stood up to King George and felt they should kneel to King George. The last third of the colonial population were a little unsympathetic to the cause, or switched their sympathies back and forth on a daily basis.

I do not believe those kneeling today are in any way against those who fought for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” yesterday, or today. In fact, I think they are bravely fighting for those same words, while facing censure from the leader of their nation, firing by their employers and ridicule from their football fans who have decried the few who have passively brought national attention to those last words of the anthem to which they kneel before, but are no less part of “the land of the brave.”

I am not brave enough to kneel during the National Anthem, even though I sympathize with those that do.

Bob Thomas lives in Weare.