The flag, kneeling and patriotism
For my entire adult life I have flown the American flag on national holidays, and for the past 20 years I have flown it 24 hours a day, illuminated as required by the U.S. Flag Code. I say the Pledge of Allegiance and sing the “Star Spangled Banner” loud and proud. I do this not to honor the artistic genius of Betsy Ross, but for love and honor of the “Republic for which it stands.”
Peacefully kneeling during a flag ceremony is an eloquent and powerful affirmation of the ideals of that republic and a simultaneous condemnation of the current chasm between current reality and those ideals. I probably would not choose that form of protest, but if I were to try and silence those that do — denying Americans of their First Amendment rights — I would be placing the flag above the ideals of the republic. And that would be secular idolatry.
Steve Miller, Omaha
Third option is needed
As our nation suffers the recent tragedies, there is much to learn about why we are divided. I fear the beginning of football season will further that division. Recent events have surely cast a new light on the “kneel for the flag” movement. The gesture, and the media coverage of it, are likely to increase as public opinion moves toward the acknowledgment of the problem the symbol was originally meant to address.
The point of contention is that many people view “taking a knee” as a profound symbol of disrespect to those police officers who sometimes risk their lives to protect us. Some also see “kneeling” as disrespect for the soldiers who fought and died for our country. The problem is the symbol itself.
If we “take a knee,” that does not mean that we believe that all police are bad or that our republic is rotten. Kneeling does not mean we disrespect the soldiers who fought and died to preserve the freedom we enjoy.
Likewise, if we choose to stand for the anthem, that does not mean that we do not acknowledge that injustice, now and in the past, to black Americans at the hands of police.
We need a third option. Maybe we kneel to acknowledge there is a problem but do so with a hand over the heart to communicate that we also honor those soldiers and police that do protect and serve. Or maybe we stand with both arms crossed to symbolize both respect and a call to action. I choose to believe we are a great but imperfect nation with the highest ideals. We have come a long way, and we can solve our problems if we reasonably work together to see the other guy’s point of view.
John Freeman, Omaha
Trump is right about rioters
The good reverend, in his June 13 Pulse letter “Trump fails us at a critical time,” seems to need a little lesson on leadership. Do not tell us that Trump does not support the protesters. He, plus all citizens, have stated their feelings on what a bad disgusting incident occurred in Minneapolis with the bad cops, which should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Legal protesting is not what his leadership is against. Trump is against the looting, destruction of private property and unlawful assault on police and innocent citizens.
Look at all the damage in Seattle, where criminals have taken over a police precinct and a six-block area. Businesses cannot operate and residents cannot enter without the criminals’ approval. These are not people you want to kneel with and support.
So many small businesses have been destroyed and closed forever. Let me ask the good reverend, what would your feelings be like if the unlawful protesters destroyed your business and prevented the public from receiving their services and you could no longer manage religious education? Think you may feel differently? It is very disturbing hearing a member of the clergy have a problem so wrong.
Jack Moyer, Omaha
Many military heroes to honor
New media outlets have recently reported that the U.S. Department of Defense is considering renaming installations named after Confederate generals of the American Civil War such as Fort Hood, Fort Bragg and Camp Beauregard. If senior leaders are serious about this change, then why not rename these installations after Medal of Honor recipients? There are hundreds of possible candidate names just from World War II alone, such as Col. James H. Howard, Pvt. Silvestre Herrera, Lt. Vernon Baker and Pvt. George Sakato, who exemplified courage and self-sacrifice in combat.
The Medal of Honor is the highest military award a service member can receive. American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines across various ethnic backgrounds have earned this distinction, proving that courage has no color.
Frederick Wong, Omaha