There are better ways to protest

W e love freedom. No, we LOVE freedom.

And we try not to take our freedom for granted. We cherish that our country, the United States of America, was founded on the right to be free.

In fact, walk into The Express community newspaper office in downtown Lock Haven and there, on the first-floor, front office wall and in a very large frame, is the First Amendment.

It reads: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Those of sound mind would agree: These guarantees affect us every day and they empower us as American citizens seeking to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

This brings us to the protests during the playing of The Star Spangled Banner — our National Anthem — prior to National Football League games.

While we do not support the president’s bitter rhetoric, in our view, the demonstrations “against a country that oppresses black people and people of color” (as Colin Kaepernick said) while the National Anthem is being played is misguided and serves only to divide us as a nation even more.

Go protest in the nation’s capital, at the Washington Monument, or the Lincoln Memorial.

Heck, go to your local government meeting and ask to be heard to voice your opinion.

But please, in the name of patriots who have laid down their lives for our freedom, don’t “diss” our flag.

Our argument is that refusing to stand for the National Anthem shows disrespect for the flag and members of the Armed Forces.

The Star Spangled Banner pays respect to the people who have risked their lives, been injured, or died defending the United States … not to mention their families.

Call the flag just a symbol, but that symbol — paid for in bloodshed — is what helps to inspire our freedom.

So please, find another way … find a more fitting method of protesting against injustice.

Our flag is sacred.

It must be.

The flag must serve to unify us as a nation … as a people who are free … despite our disagreement and our grievances.

And for the record, here is the complete version of The Star-Spangled Banner showing spelling and punctuation from Francis Scott Key’s manuscript in the Maryland Historical Society collection:

O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light, What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming, Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming? And the rocket’s red glare, the bomb bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there, O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes, What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep, As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses? Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam, In full glory reflected now shines in the stream, ‘Tis the star-spangled banner — O long may it wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore, That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion A home and a Country should leave us no more? Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution. No refuge could save the hireling and slave From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave, And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation! Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation! Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto – “In God is our trust,” And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.