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Letter to the Editor: Reflections on our National Anthem

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Sunday, August 12, 2018

We often become inattentive or intellectually lame when performing the same tasks and rituals frequently.

Sadly, I found that true with myself when pledging allegiance to the flag or standing for the National Anthem, just going through the motions. Not anymore. Thanks to the NFL, the players kneeling for the anthem have given me cause for reflection and subsequently a renewed appreciation and understanding of America and why we honor it by standing.

While I won’t question the cause of the protestors here or their sincerity, I do believe their method is misguided and counterproductive. Our flag and anthem are symbolic of an America that is founded on values and principles found in our Declaration, Constitution and Bill of Rights, which enable us to “form a more perfect union” (Preamble). “More perfect” is a paradoxical phrase that tells us perfection is never achieved; nevertheless, we strive for it in a continuous search for truth and justice and are the better for it. That in a nutshell is the history of our country.

Since 1776, we have been on an endless trial and error journey of change and reinvention forever approximating our promised land. This “more perfect” we seek to attain is through the values and documents aforementioned. To protest and denigrate the associated symbolism of our flag and anthem is to protest and denigrate the framework that will actually allow for the change the players seek. Most Americans intuitively understand this contradiction and reject being sympathetic for this reason and not necessarily a cause for which there is protest.

Moreover, it is so disrespectful to those who have died or served our country in protecting this framework for all to use, including protestors. They have allowed us to keep our grand experiment ongoing for 242 years, truly exceptional in the history of civilization. I have now elevated July 4th, Veterans Day and Memorial Day to the highest of celebration and remembrance holidays and make a point to attend local observances.

Our flag and anthem are symbols of an idea, its values and our republic. It is a moment when all stand together as one, despite what our differences might be or the shortcomings we still have, because we are honoring a creed and an aspiration in America with all its possibilities of “more perfect” as the best way forward.

W. Richard Cobb Sr.

Rocky Mount

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