To Be American.

Amendment I:
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.

The United States Bill of Rights

Part of what makes this country special is that we respect people’s rights to have a different opinion, and to make different decisions about how they want to express their concerns.  The test of our fidelity to our constitution, to Freedom of Speech, to our Bill of Rights, is not when it’s easy, but when it’s hard.  We fight sometimes so that people do things that we disagree with, but that’s what freedom means in this country.  My hope would be that as this debate surfaces, we’re always reminding ourselves that in a democracy like ours, there are going to be a lot of folks who do stuff that we disagree with.  As long as they do it within the law, then we can voice our opinion objecting to it, but it’s also their right.  It’s important also for us to recognize that sometimes out of these controversies we get into a conversation, and I want everyone to listen to one another.  I want Mr. Kaepernick and others who are on a knee, I want them to listen to the pain that that may cause to somebody who had a spouse or child killed in combat.  But I also want people to think about the pain of those who have lost a loved one who they think was unfairly shot…The only way that we make (democracy) work, is to see each other, listen to each other, try to be respectful of each other.  Not going into separate corners, and I do hope that anybody who’s trying to express any political view of any sort understands that they do so under the blanket of protection of our men and women in uniform, and that the appreciation of that sacrifice is never lost.

Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States

Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.

Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States

Without Freedom of Thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty, without Freedom of Speech; which is the Right of every Man, as far as by it, he does not hurt or control the Right of another: And this is the only check it ought to suffer, and the only bounds it ought to know.

This sacred privilege is so essential to free governments that the Security of Property and the Freedom of Speech always go together; and in those wretched Countries where a man cannot call his tongue his own, he can scarce call anything else his own. Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the Freeness of Speech. – Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father of the United States

There’s a lot that has been said and will be said regarding the current (and vile) president, his vice president, administration, his party, and the voting constituency that risked the welfare of all the world to put him into office.

There’s much more to be said regarding the choice of many NFL players choosing to kneel, raise fists, or disregarding the playing of the national anthem prior to kickoff.  And I’ll say it now, in brief.

It is profoundly un-American to kneel with your roster one week in an obvious photo-op, then tell those same players doing so again will result in potential unemployment.

It is profoundly un-American to promise limits on wasteful government spending only to waste over $240,000 of taxpayer money on a Trump-inspired stunt at an NFL game.  In his home state, no less, ruining the statue unveiling of hero Peyton Manning.

All in a protest of the Freedom of Speech, America’s 1st Amendment, one of the principles on which this nation was founded.

Indiana’s military veterans thankfully reacted in a way that was infinitely more American than anything the current (and vile) administration has done in their 11 months since being elected:

Kneeling during the National Anthem and not paying respects to the flag is offensive to many in the veterans community, as many have lost brothers and sisters in arms while wearing the flag on our shoulders to defend those at home. 

However, it is everyone’s right to peacefully protest, as those are the freedoms we are sworn to protect as veterans who have served our nation and continue to serve our communities faithfully. 

The American Legion is not currently boycotting the NFL. In fact, the Indiana Legion will be presenting the flag at the Colts vs Titans game on November 26.

We will lead by example, flying the colors of our nation proudly, because it represents all Americans, regardless of race, gender, religion or creed.

 – The Indiana Legion

It is my personal stance that we live in a constantly churning society that may never be perfect, but should always try to be better.  We should try to listen, try to empathize, try to break down the often overbearing financial dominance and political control imposed on us by the flaws within a capitalist economy & a predominantly white Christian center of power.

We need to stop cherry picking the positives from our past in order to bang the drum for a revised, false history.  We need to stop pretending the ambiguous shield of “heritage” is some kind of Ace of Spades.  We need to believe that we’re better than our ancestors, wiser from their wars and sacrifices, evolved from the divisions that only war seemed to solve.

We need to stop pretending there isn’t a problem with our police.  We need to effectively recognize the presence of racial prejudice within that institution and restore the valor, dignity, and explicit trust every small town and big city requires to maintain order and simultaneously promote better, safer communities.

We need to stop thinking that black Americans are criminals, capable only of being “uppity” when they dare to challenge their place in our culture.  We need to listen to what they have to say, even if we disagree with the manner in which they say it.  That is what makes a good American.

We need to stop thinking that all muslim Americans are terrorists, seeking only constant cracks in our infrastructure to sneak bombs onto planes and guns into populated areas.  We need to shape our culture into one of tolerance that will inspire dialogue instead of provoke further violence.

We need to celebrate equality, and strive to provide fair opportunity and basic privilege to women, homosexuals, minorities, and ANY human being that is not a white Christian male.  We’ve got to try.

We need to stop being simple-minded about our borders.  The romantic imagery of some preposterous wall is not only financially reckless/impossible, but the cultural consequences of such a thing reflect so poorly upon us as a people, as a country, and as a world society, that we need to look ourselves, at our neighbors, at our friends and family, and ask ourselves – is this really something we can and should want?  Is this who we want to be?  Is this who we want our children to be, and what they should believe?

The Statue of Liberty, modeled after Libertas, the Roman goddess and embodiment of liberty, is perhaps the most prolific and famous icon in The United States.  A woman, standing with determined grit and steadfastly, eternally bearing a torch to light the world.  She is our finest symbol.  She is who we should as a species strive for in our governance, tolerance, and wisdom.

The plaque at her feet, “The New Colossus,” is as inspiring today as it ever has been and ever will be.  Read it and remember America, because we must rekindle Liberty’s faintly-glimmering torch, and stoke the fires of freedom for all future generations.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

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