What I'm about to say I speak from my heart, from deep within my gut as a father, husband, pastor and hard working citizen of the greatest country on earth, the USA.
My father's parents migrated to America from Sicily. My father and his siblings were not allowed to speak Italian in the home because they were "Americans." (Not saying that was right or wise, just want you to see the picture.) Pop was a veteran serving in the US Army. My mother’s parents were English and Pennsylvania Dutch. I received Christ as a child with my mother while living in Glassboro. My parents moved to Cross Keys when I was seven; I am the 2nd graduating class from Washington Township High School. Every student, there were no exceptions, stood and saluted the flag pledging our alliance to "ONE nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for ALL.”
Therefore, when the Pittsburgh Steelers coach, and other NFL coaches and owners wrongfully sided with players staying in the locker room or refusing to put their hands over their hearts during the National Anthem, I was deeply dismayed. To me, it showed utter contempt and disrespect for our 'men in blue' and all military branches. To me they insulted the intelligence of every American who understands that NFL owners, players and coaches make millions BECAUSE the police and military have secured their liberty to not only play a sport they love, but make millions while doing it.
Why would an American not stand for the National Anthem, with hand over heart, in acknowledgment of those who have paid for their freedom, many with their lives? I know this sounds acerbic, but if they don't like it let them play ball in North Korea, Russia or Cuba.
This is not about black, white, brown, red or yellow; it's about respect for the Country and its flag, which symbolizes we are “’one’ nation under God.” The National Anthem speaks of oneness and not division; it speaks of hope and unity, of poverty to wealth, from the ghetto to the Presidency. To protest during its salute is to corrupt the very thing it stands for. Some argue it’s the only way African-Americans can be heard. I disagree. There is a right way and there are proper channels to voice our grievances. Take the case of Richard and Mildred Loving; it was a long battle making its way to the SCOTUS. But, justice was done using the proper channels (movie release 2016).
As believers there's a right and wrong way to do things. e.g.: How do we right the wrong of illegitimate children, which become the property of the state and every citizen's tax burden? We foster and adopt. We don't protest on football field ... or wherever. I'm sure you've seen the movie Mutiny on the Bounty with Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins. Brilliant movie by the way! Well, if this hatred, spurred on by the media and press, doesn't stop we're going to have Mutiny in America.
It's frightening what America is becoming. We are divided on nearly every front—economically, religiously, racially, morally, and the list goes on. I know you, Joe, and I believe you and I want the same thing; we love the same God, and we want, truly, to be "One Nation Under God." However, the Biblical principle of sowing and reaping is in effect here. Sow discord and we’ll reap discord. Oppression is a horrible thing, and needs to be taken on head-on, but take it to the town hall or courts or social media … but, in my opinion, using the National Anthem during a football game draws a line in the wrong sand.
Let's pray we’ll see the day, and live in the beauty of being “One Nation Under God.”
J. Bruce Sofia