LETTER: We must not allow ourselves to be sidetracked

I woke on the Fourth of July, thinking about the politics and militarization of patriotism, especially under Trump.

It’s good to ask: Is Independence Day about celebrating the dream of America, “land of the free, the home of the brave,” or it mostly about a military victory?

There’s no question that we must honor the sacrifice of our soldiers, 365 days a year. And especially that’s what Memorial Day is about.

However, if every American event that begins with the Pledge of Allegiance and a salute to the flag is only about our military, then the big promise of a country like ours disappears.

Patriotism is not about winning wars. It is about each of us fiercely committing to the words on the base of the Statue of Liberty, the lifted “lamp beside the golden door.” It is about “one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

So if an African American athlete kneels at the opening of a football game to draw attention to what has been forgotten, it’s right to accept that such a gesture is a call to honor the words of our pledge. We must not allow ourselves to get sidetracked into thinking it’s about disrespecting soldiers.

Would we be more likely to remember what our country stands for if our national anthem was “America the Beautiful,” which ends, “crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea?”

A sad day, when Trump’s father sent him to New York Military Academy. Even football games end up being about him.

— Rondi Lightmark

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