Football brings millions of Americans together each week. We support, we cheer, we exult their wins and despair their losses and injuries.
As Americans, we are all together once a week with our teams, as a team. That is, until recently. You can say what you want here in the Land of the Free, but don’t disrespect our flag. Because Americans will not tolerate it. And you will lose your fans; we are Americans first, football fans next.
I have always loved football: Olympia High School Bears, UW Huskies and the Seahawks. But I was personally affronted, along with millions of other football fans, when the NFL began this demonstration of blatant disrespect for our flag. If we cannot unite as Americans, within the borders of this country and standing on this good land, under the common banner of the stars and stripes, we will not prevail. It is too symbolic of what has gone before us, and has much more significance than a football game.
As a Baby Boomer, I grew up knowing what my parents, grandparents, and the generations before me fought to safeguard. This land. Our freedom. They were willing to sacrifice all for their country, and many did. And we will not forget. As the symbol for our brave soldiers, past (and present), this was what it was all about when the smoke settled; we were still FREE.
As a young girl, my mother remembers the country during World War II was terrified; America was fighting many fronts including Germany and Japan. No one knew if we could win. Food, gas, everything was rationed. It was serious, and American lives, and our very freedom, our country was at risk. She was drafted by the War Department at the age of 20, her senior year in college. Yes, drafted. The telegram directed her to report to Davis County Courthouse in Nashville and she did so without question. Her orders would take her to Palm Beach Naval Hospital where she was assigned to a Navy medical team assisting the injured soldiers returning home.
At that time, my dad was stationed at the same hospital in Florida as a Chief Pharmacist Mate for the Navy. Attached to a Marine division, he already had served in the Pacific on the LST 484. The horrors my dad experienced and the gravity of injuries my mom saw precluded them from ever talking about the war.
My uncle Jack was awarded a Purple Heart when he was shot by enemy fire while in Europe, and my uncle Stokes received the Silver Star for rescuing four of his fellow soldiers from their disabled tank. (We recently discovered pictures Stokes took of a Nazi concentration camp as the prisoners were being freed by the Americans! Don’t let anyone tell you the Holocaust wasn’t real.)
And this is just MY family of warriors. There are so many heroes who faithfully served under our flag, for this country.
This flag is not only the symbol of one of few free countries in the world, but it also is the symbol of a united resolve to keep our country safe from foreign takeover and occupation, no matter what. We still fight this fight.
There is much to do to remedy social injustices in America, but dishonoring the flag is not where to start. More people will overlook your protest than will contribute to your endeavor, guaranteed. When I turn on a football game, I don’t want to see the flag disrespected, or I will not watch. I am not alone.
The very government the players are refusing to stand and honor is subsidizing the NFL, to the tune of millions. The players’ salaries are millions each year. The taxpayers fund the game, yet the players kneel in disrespect of the emblem we hold near and dear? The NFL needs to reconsider what it is they are hoping to accomplish, because it isn’t going to happen this way.
Susan Ritter is a semi-retired business owner and a member of The Olympian’s 2017 Board of Contributors. Contact her at Susanhritter@comcast.net.