These days, it seems we live in a society where people take positions and have opinions about what’s going on in the world and then tell others they don’t feel it’s a requirement to explain why they feel the way they do about it.
If you ask, you are often met with anger. Because you’re either with the cause or against it, and proponents believe the issue is so clear cut that anyone can see the pure truth in the position being held.
That’s not me. I have opinions and I am happy to explain why I have those feelings.
If you read my column, you have read that I am alright with the fact that some folks feel it necessary to kneel during our country’s National Anthem.
I don’t kneel, however. I stand proudly for this great country. And, just because I understand why people kneel, it doesn’t mean I believe anyone should ever kneel.
Let me explain.
Through our nation’s history, there have been significant military struggles. From the Revolutionary War all the way through to the War on Terror, citizens of the United States have volunteered their service to the cause of freedom. Some were drafted and served honorably to protect liberty.
While some go on to have careers in the military, many more put their lives on hold to serve. All put their lives on the line.
Sure, not all members of the military will serve on the front line of combat, but many will serve in the combat theater, subject to harm at any time. And every service person, even in times of peace, lives with the constant possibility of being called ready to serve in a battle to protect America from its enemies. With that comes the possibility of being killed or injured.
People do not join the military to sacrifice their lives, though many have ended up making that sacrifice. In an attempt to make sure that doesn’t happen, members of the military train their minds and bodies for the challenges that could come their way. And that takes great work ethic.
I admire the bravery of our service members. I admire their work ethic. I admire their willingness to serve to protect me and my family and the families of countless Americans.
Because of that service, I am able to move freely about our country. I am able to build a life that’s to my liking. I am able to freely associate, to believe whatever I want and to speak publicly about those beliefs without fear of reprisals. And I feel that I won’t be subject to unwarranted harassment or incarceration because of a justice system that puts a search for truth ahead of any push for vengeance.
Some might say I feel this way because I am privileged. I would agree.
And I would agree because I feel that privilege extends to the ability to fight hard for what you believe is right while in what has to be considered the safest of environments. I didn’t say 100 percent safe mind you.
If you fight for what you feel is right, you might be opposed.  You might be threatened. And you might have to live up to the words in the final lines of the National Anthem. America is indeed the home of the free and the land of the brave. In order to live free, you have to be brave.
In other countries, where these free privileges don’t exist, you live in fear. And, many times, you can’t even begin to fight for what is right.
Our rights and privileges are fantastic. And I am so glad to have them. It’s an honor to visit with service members and veterans and thank them for the commitment they’ve shown. If you do it, be prepared to hear this, “Thanks for saying that, but I don’t do it to be thanked. And I am not mad at people if they don’t thank me.”
I have heard that. Many times.
Now it would be great if I could talk to all our service people and our veterans and thank them, because I feel like that is the right thing. I can’t.
And so I stand for the National Anthem.
When I stand, I think of the pure joy of a service member seeing and embracing his friends and family after a long deployment.
I think about the sadness that people work through because they’re away from family and friends. And I feel the sadness of those who might be left at home during commitments. They just want to hang out with that person, share a conversation, a joke or an embrace.
And I think about the mixture of pride filled joy and aching sorrow that families feel when they hear that their loved one will have to deal with life-long disability because of a service related injury. I think of those who don’t get to have their loved one back home because that service member made the ultimate sacrifice. What a crushing blow.
The National Anthem is emotional for me. And it’s especially emotional when the song is performed to perfection because it brings those thoughts into my head with increased intensity.
Thanks to all you service members and veterans out there. Truth is that I could not do what you do. All I can say is thanks. Over and over again. Thanks!
That’s why I stand. And, if you think about it, that might be why you stand too.