Every four years we as a country long to see our athletes stand atop the podium and be presented with the greatest achievements in all of sports. The Olympic Gold Medal, signifying the best in the world in that discipline. We listen as our flag is hoisted to the rafters as the “Star Spangled Banner” plays loud and proud. For that one brief moment we are one as a nation. It pains me to see how the rest of the time much of our nation seems to forget what the “Stars and Stripes” and “Star Spangled Banner” really represent.
I recently attended a youth hockey game with my wife at a local arena; it was a cold and windy night as we walked in from the parking lot. There was an abundance of high school students gathering in the lobby to support their team. The school colors of black and orange were hung in obvious school spirit. As we walked up the stairs to the upper entrance there were a pair of devoted parents collecting the admission fee. I was looking forward to a spirited game. We found our seats on the home team side of the arena. This was just along the fringes of the predominantly student area. There was a diverse group of young people in all types of clothing. Some were chatting in groups; others were texting or talking on cell phones.
The two teams came onto the ice for the pregame warm up; the cheerleaders were stirring the crowd. The public address announcer came over the loud speaker asking the crowd to please respect the teams and opposing fans, listing the basic etiquette for the event. This was followed by the introduction of the starting lineups for both schools. Upon completion the public address announcer asked the audience to please rise as a local veterans group presented the colors. Most in attendance stood and paid the appropriate respect as the flag of our nation was paraded onto center ice. I noticed a small group of high school students that had been chatting before not only did not stand, but continued to talk as the colors were being presented.
The public address announcer then introduced a local high school choir member, and asked those in attendance to please remain standing for her rendition of the national anthem. I was very disappointed to see the same small group of high school students continue to talk with utter disregard for the performance taking place. After the national anthem was over I noticed an older gentleman walk down the steps to where the group of students had been talking. I could not here what was being said by the man, I did however hear the response. “Mind your own business old man, leave us alone!” “I don’t care about that stupid fucking song anyway!”
My blood started to boil; you see I am a veteran who watched friends die defending that flag. As I started to rise my wife grabbed my arm and stopped me. She spoke calmly in my ear, “They are young and just don’t get it.” Maybe she is right.
Growing up in a small New England town, the Memorial Day parade was a community event. Most everyone in town was part of the parade, either marching in or cheering as others marched by. Spending the day in sweltering July heat waiting for the sun to set. Seeing the rockets fly as darkness finally arrives, feeling the concussions as the fireworks explodes. Seeing the television station shut down at the end of the broadcast day, hearing the national anthem play, then static. Watching my grandfather every morning at camp walk out to the