Oh Say Can You See?

Amid the controversy following football player Colin Kaepernick’s decision to take a seat during the playing of the national anthem before a game last week, The Curmudgeon got to wondering:

When did the “Star-Spangled Banner” come to be viewed as an expression of respect and appreciation for members of the armed forces?

When The Curmudgeon learned the song back in elementary school our national anthem was presented as a, well, as a national anthem, sort of the official song of the country. Putting aside what a lousy, war-glorifying, hard-to-sing song it is, he does not recall anyone teaching him about the song being a sign of respect for the military. A song written – well, the lyrics, anyway – during the heat of battle, yes; but specifically a nod of respect and appreciation to people in the military, people in uniform? Not at all.

So when a football player, or anyone else, chooses not to stand during the playing of the “Star Spangled Banner,” The Curmudgeon thinks questioning that person’s motives is appropriate and questioning that person’s judgment is appropriate and questioning that person’s rationale is appropriate but criticizing that person for failing to show respect to the armed forces is highly inappropriate.

And getting bogged down in whether it was a good or bad thing to do and ignoring the message the gesture sought to convey is to miss the point entirely.

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