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  • Writer's pictureBen Avey

The American Flag

I believe in America.

The American flag has always flown in my yard. I stand for the National Anthem and I place my hand over my heart when I pledge my allegiance. For me, these are simple acts of patriotism that demonstrate my unyielding belief in us.

Some may see these acts as a “vote of confidence” or “vote of no confidence” for the way things are. More and more people stand or sit to demonstrate their opinion on the politics of the day. That’s their right as Americans, but it’s not what I believe.

We are an imperfect people in an imperfect country. We are flawed and have been since our earliest days. Our founders recognized that and established a system of government accordingly. They empowered everyday citizens to make and change laws. They implemented a system of checks and balances to stave off autocracy and oligarchy. They recognized both the power of central authority and importance of local control.

They saw the challenges ahead and planned for them. Our continued ability to embrace change has been the hallmark of our nation. Sometimes we lead, other times we follow, but we have evolved together as we strive for a better America.

The flag, in my view, embodies these principles. Look no further than its design. Thirteen stripes recognize the thirteen colonies that broke free from a Monarchy. Thirteen stars on a field of blue recognized the individual states that bound our republic. There have been 27 versions of the flag, each one recognizing the changing constellation of our great nation. The flag embodies the idea that we are not done. It embodies that we are a nation prone to do better - to be better.

I understand why people may wish to demonstrate their anger by not standing for the flag. And, having spent yesterday morning placing flags on veteran’s graves, I understand why that feels disrespectful to those who bore the weight of its defense. As the son of a Marine and husband to a Navy officer, I struggle myself with those who sit for the National Anthem or deface the flag.

For my part, frequently dismayed by current events and elected officials who I consider culpable, I will avail myself of the recourse offered by our Founders. I’m going to vote in June and will myself appear on the ballot in November. Outside of election season, if I have an opinion, I will express it – not in a social media echo chamber – but with direct and respectful communication to those who are charged with representing me. Whether my opinion or candidate carries the day, I will respect the outcome of the decision-making process I sought to influence. That is the American way too.

I believe in American and this weekend, I’m taking time to honor those who sacrificed their lives for my freedom. They paid what President Lincoln described as "the last full measure of devotion." I owe them both my gratitude and my commitment to carry on their legacy of patriotism.

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1 Comment

Jon Waldrep
Jon Waldrep
Aug 23, 2022

This makes me nervous. What about students who don't want to stand and recite the pledge of allegiance? What about students who want to take a knee during the national anthem to protest centuries of systemic racism? What about students who don't feel patriotism for a country that discriminants against the LGBTQ community, or increasingly is trying to restrict a woman's right to choose, or ban books? I am certainly not saying you are in favor of any of that, but I want to know if you respect the rights of students and teachers in the San Juan school district who don't want to salute a flag or stand for the anthem?

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