I Did Not Mean To Disrespect the Flag …And Maybe You Didn’t Either

by Curt Kovener

If there are not naturally occurring weather crisis, wildfires, hurricane damage assistance, nuclear finger pointing, computer hacking then there are conjured up crisis du jour since January 20.
Now there are a bunch of Washington types, led by the President and VP, with their knickers in a knot because some football players are not standing for the National Anthem. The high profile athletes are not standing as a way to bringing attention to the injustice of the significantly high number of police shootings of black citizens because the victims are not high profile.
Rather than look at the root cause of the high profile player protest, the two elected national leaders who have never served a day in the military, want to talk about disrespecting the flag.
I was taught during my years in the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts to stand when the flag passes by and for the playing for the National Anthem.
Sometimes that is just not possible.
There are radio stations that will occasionally play a four part harmony version of the Star Spangled Banner. I suppose they do so to show their support for the flag and to be patriotic.
But when listening to the radio driving down the interstate at 70 mph, it just doesn’t seem like a good idea to pull over, get out of my truck, and stand while traffic goes whizzing by wondering what is wrong with me. They probably are not listening to the radio but talking on their phones or texting or tweeting.
Then there are those pickup trucks with the American and Confederate flags affixed to their pick up beds driving about. Like the professional football player, they are expressing their right to free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment. The flag maybe passing by me but I cannot safely stand with a semi filling my rearview mirror.
And— an embarassing confession— there have been times I have been caught in the men’s room before an athletic event. I was standing when the anthem was being played, but not at attention. At least not in that way. Perhaps the President would say I should have planned better but I know my bladder better than he does, I think.
The appearance of disrespecting the flag is a non-negotiable point with members of the VFW and American Legion. I get that. They served this country in one of the branches of service.
Back on the home front, I was the director of the Crothersville Red, White & Blue Festival for 16 years…a festival which is billed as “Indiana’s Most Patriotic Festival.” I have served what is equivalent to four presidential terms to promote a lot of red, white & blue flag waving. All the while having served as much time in the military as our Commander in Chief and his second in command.
It was also during my youthful scouting days that respect for the flag was taught.
But even today as I drive about the community and the county I see people disrespecting the flag. Atop a number of flag poles in the front yards & in front of businesses I pass are flags that are no longer red, white & blue but pink, gray and in tatters by the wind, rain and neglect. Flags that long ago should have been exchanged for new ones and those that are past their service respectfully and ceremonially incinerated.
Maybe Vice President Pence gets more national exposure for walking out of a football game when some opposing team players took a knee (the President takes credit saying he told him to do it). But wouldn’t it have more meaning if on his next trip back to his home state that convoy of armored black SUVs with tinted windows pulled into the driveway of a tatter, faded flag waver to shame them for disrespecting the flag?
Don’t worry. It won’t happen. By the time you are reading this there will be yet another crisis du jour to distract us from the important stuff.