LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Disrespecting the flag is an insult to military

The selfish disrespect not only of the flag, but of the nation it represents, by pampered millionaire athletes who “take a knee” during the national anthem is appalling to this veteran.

Perhaps symbolic is that throughout the ages, kneeling is a sign of submission for losers of battles. It is accompanied by the bowing of the head to expose the neck as a sign of subservience. ISIS forces its victims to kneel prior to decapitating them.

But to millions of veterans and their families, there is no greater insult than to see young people disrespect the banner that represents those who served, fought for, and sometimes died for the nation it represents. It is not unusual to see a hardened veteran wipe a tear from his or her eye during a vocal rendition of the national anthem.

The flag is the banner under which our fallen return to their families. We in Delaware have seen it too many times when our fallen return to Dover Air Force Base, sometimes en masse. The Stars and Stripes flies over 24 permanent American cemeteries across Europe, honoring 125,000 Americans who paid the ultimate price for their freedom during World War II. Those nations honor their resting places as an extension of America.

We Vietnam veterans lost more than 58,000 of our comrades who returned covered by the flag. We were raised by the generation that raised the flag on Iwo Jima.

More important, the protesters willing to condemn our nation over their personal concerns also dishonor our current [military personnel] who proudly wear flag patches on their uniforms. They are part of the most sophisticated military force in history, willing to give their lives to protect us from those who would gladly impose their will on us.

Worse is the near-admiration by some coaches and commentators of the spreading number of children’s teams mimicking them. An interviewer on National Public Radio recently referred to members of an NFL team encouraging everyone to take a knee because they “all go to war together,” against opponents. They and their coaches need a reality check. Ask the family of Brad Tillman.

As an adjunct communications professor at a local university, I understand the First Amendment of the Constitution allows free expression of speech. There are consequences if it goes too far, including language that injures someone’s reputation or words that incite hatred or violence. This protest is not about that.

That said, bear in mind that professional athletic teams are businesses whose representatives have chosen to insult those who still honor and respect our nation as a whole. They are supported by sponsors who are sensitive to consumer complaints. College sports are also supported by donors.

Relative to veterans, I wish someone would make a record of all of the teams whose coaches and owners see nothing wrong with insulting the fewer than 1 percent of those who serve our nation in uniform.

We and our families are a minority group with a long memory. It’s personal to us. My generation will never forget Jane Fonda, nor she us.

Dave Skocik
President, Delaware Veterans Coalition

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