Letter: Thoughts on kneeling and the flag

To the editor:

I admit to having old-fashioned ideas about respect for the flag and the National Anthem. I am surprisingly uncomfortable when I see flags being flown wet, dirty, torn, or after dark — what I had learned was disrespectful. I have come to appreciate, however, that our flag has become a more accessible symbol of our country for many folks when the old rules are loosened.

I was taught that you always sing along with the National Anthem, that you place your right hand over your heart, remove your hat, and stand. Most still stand, but in other ways, some show disrespect, and I don't mean the ones on the playing field. If you asked anyone before a year ago whether kneeling or standing was the greater sign of respect, they'd undoubtedly say kneeling. Folks take a knee, or two, before a beloved intended fiancee, before God, royalty, a confessor, and during other forms of spiritual practice. Bending the knee(s) is an extraordinary and humble form of respect, of reverence. It seems clear to me that the ones "taking a knee" are calling attention to injustice by using a recognized form of reverential respect.

At any playing of the National Anthem, though, aren't there always a few folks who are being disrespectful by talking, eating, drinking, texting, smoking, and walking around? Wouldn't it be an amazing sign of respect for the values of our country if everyone, on and off the field, paused during the National Anthem to consider our freedoms, including free speech and assembly? I see respect for our values in the standing, the kneeling, the linked arms, the singing, and the silence, and I would hope that the flag and the National Anthem become such accessible symbols that everyone's freedom is accepted and respected.

— Rev. Kathy Duhon, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Bennington

New Lebanon, N.Y.


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