Have any of these highly paid athletes who kneel during the National Anthem ever considered the words that Francis Scott Key penned a little more than two centuries ago? For that matter, have you who might take offense at their protest considered the song that brings us to our feet and puts our hands over our hearts.
The first verse begins with a question and ends with another question. They are essential to understanding what we as a nation are all about.
We fought and paid dearly to gain independence from the British Empire. We won and took a decade to come up with a Constitution that has no equal geographically or chronologically. We began this grand experiment in a democratic republic with noble concepts, imperfect for sure, but there have been none better—ever.
The British wanted their colonies back and thus began the War of 1812. By then we had a flag. We had many in the formative years, but now we had one with stars and stripes. It stood for this grand experiment for which so many had bled and died.
The song asks if anyone can see if the symbol of this young country had survived the night’s battle. In the lights of explosions that continued through the night, glimpses of our flag remained, but dawn had come. Did we survive the night?
We had and so too would our republic.
The question at the end of this verse is not to generations past but to us. Does that flag still wave over the land of the free and the home of the brave. Are we still willing to sacrifice today to keep this grand experiment alive? Are we willing to set aside selfishness to preserve the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity?
This country has problems. Guess what? They all do, but we are one of the few where we get to be a part of the solution. I have been to many countries around this world, not staying in the finest hotels and meeting with celebrities, but living and serving among the working end of this equation called humanity. I say with no qualification at all, ours is the best of the best.
We have problems but we are blessed to be a part of the solutions. We are the government unless we get lazy or apathetic.
It is easy to point out problems or to assign blame. It takes courage to jump into the arena and be a part of the solution. Are there still racial problems in this great country? Yes.
I will again say with some definition, they pale in comparison to most of the world. We are spoiled. We have abandoned self-discipline and respect for authority, and we—all of us—have authored the problems of this century. The good news is that we may also be a part of their solutions, at least for now.
If the American way is so bad that you must protest against it, what is better? Bring a working model and put it before the people. Small minds protest, blame, and object without sticking their necks out to produce something better. Brave and creative ones offer viable alternatives.
The American way is to produce something better than we had before. Do we want to preserve the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity or do we just want to get some attention that we don’t like the way things are but will not get in the middle of the solution?
Does that star-spangled banner still waver over the land of the free and the home of the brave? Are we still willing to be a part of the solution or just complain about how bad we have it in the very country where we have the best chance of all to fix things?
I love the words of President Theodore Roosevelt. He spoke them overseas but they are surely meant for our generation in this country that has become so critical and divisive of everything.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
If you think that we have a problem with our police forces, set aside your Sunday uniform and dawn the blue or khaki of our nation’s most troubled police forces. Go into the arena where there are no yellow flags to protect you.
If you don’t like the president, support another candidate in the next election but understand that he is where he is because of the process of very wise founders.
If you don’t like the law, elect different legislators.
If you think racism is a problem, then work to improve relations between people.
If you think that protesting is the only thing you can do, then grow a backbone and address the problems at their source. Grandstanding never solved anything.
If you must kneel, do so before almighty God and thank him that you still live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
The apostle Paul wrote with regard to Christian freedom—and it applies to freedom in our land as well—that for me everything is permissible; but not everything is profitable. Not everything is beneficial.
Not every exercise of our freedom is beneficial!
Do we have the wisdom to draw attention to the problems that need fixed in this nation without furthering the divisions that exist in this nation?
For the millionaire athletes that won’t honor the symbol for the very nation that gives them the right to do just that, here is a suggestion. If it is attention that you want, buy advertising on television and present your solutions. You are blessed to be paid great amounts of money for playing a sport.
Are you willing to put your money to work to present solutions or do you just want to stay in the safety of protest without proffered solutions?
Will you live in the arena or on the sidelines for the things that you say matter?
I challenge you to stand for our National Anthem and use the liberty that it symbolizes to help make things better. At present, you are moving this nation to more and deeper division. Do you have the courage to help heal and reconcile and preserve liberty?
Do you have the courage to help realize what our founders hoped for, that we would be the land of the free and the home of the brave?
If you are handed the football or receive a pass in a game, will you take a knee because you might get hit? I hope not.
So why take a knee when the anthem of our best hope at living as a free people is played? Blame is the cowards game. Fixing the problem instead of fixing the blame is only for the brave.
Are you numbered among the brave?