Enough is enough.
How many times have I said those words or thought those words and then did absolutely nothing? Plenty of times.
I can’t speak certain words or express certain thoughts. I don’t want to make waves or even ripples. I’ve got to be politically correct or demonstrate whatever form of correctness is required these days.
Well, today, I’m going to take a step in expressing myself. It will be a simpIe expression. I really don’t think I will go very far or too far, but I’ve got to make a simple expression of my feelings.
What really bothers me are the national anthem protests.
Every time I hear the national anthem, I think of my dad and wife Becky’s dad.
My dad proudly served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. I didn’t watch my dad – well, sometimes I did – but I knew that he shed a tear every time he heard the national anthem.
He taught me to show respect for the flag and for the playing of that song. Stop what you are doing. Stand at attention. Remove your hat. Place your right hand over your heart. Face the flag. Don’t talk.
He never told me to not shed a tear during the national anthem performance, so I do. I think of my dad. I think of friends of mine who lost their lives while serving their country – our country – in Vietnam. I think of their sacrifices, and I realize there are no words that come close to describing their sacrifices.
I think of my father-in-law. He was career Army. He was a decorated soldier, but we never knew what he did to earn those medals. He wouldn’t or couldn’t talk about those experiences. Sacrifices? I can’t even imagine.
Sacrifices? My mother-in-law made huge sacrifices while her husband was serving abroad.
Sacrifices? My wife, her sisters and brother didn’t have a dad at home much of the time while they were growing up because of his military service. My father-in-law was serving in Vietnam during Becky’s senior year of high school.
Now, I will say this about those who feel they must protest during the playing of our national anthem. OK, if you feel you have reasons to demonstrate some form of protest – and I will agree that they do – then choose a form of protest that heals, builds, unites, even educates.
I believe I heard the professional football player who started all this wanted to start a dialogue. I wonder. When is the dialogue going to start? It’s easy to sit or kneel and look cool for the television cameras, but what happens after that?
What the world is doing is keeping score of who did what on the sidelines this week. What does that accomplish? It hurts, kills, tears down, separates.
I would suggest that these superhuman professional athletes take a step of action. Put feet to your protests. Do something. Take some action. Actually start a dialogue.
Now that I have the attention of the world with my sitting or kneeling protests, what next? Maybe I can talk to law enforcement officials, governmental officials, pastors, other people who can actually help bring about change where change is required.
Maybe I could use a small amount of the millions I make to develop a program that could be taken into classrooms, civic clubs, churches. Maybe I could start a positive program that will sweep through the nation and heal our land.
I’m such a big deal in this world as a professional athlete. I can go places and talk to people that normal human beings – like you and me, maybe – can’t.
Am I solving any social inequities by sitting or kneeling? Am I saving any lives with my sideline protests? Am I part of the solution or am I part of a continuing problem?
I’ll say it again. Put feet to your protests. Do something. Do your part to bring this country together. It won’t be easy. You might find that you will have to make some sacrifices, too – not with your life, but with some of your time, influence and wealth.
Make something happen. Develop a game plan. Execute.
Jim Hardin may be reached at email@example.com.