INTRODUCTION: Growing up in America, we can all remember the daily announcements at

school, followed by the Pledge Of Allegiance to the flag; without hesitation everyone

participated. Today it has become a debatable topic and although it is not illegal to disrespect or

even burn the American Flag, we should respect the American flag for three reasons, 1. The

unity that it brings, 2. Empathy for others, and 3. Understanding different perspectives.

I. The controversy over the flag

A. 1968 Tommie Smith & John Carlos

B. Colin Kaepernic

C. Native Americans

1. First, when looking into the controversy of taking a knee I found an article

on the NC Live database called Respect for flag, anthem, nation.

According to this article in 1968, months after the assasination of Martin

Luther King Jr., Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the Summer Olympics

“raised their fists in the black power salute when the ‘Star-Spangled

Banner’ was played”. Their actions were “in hopes of leading the country

to a better day,” and they reiterated that they meant no disrespect to the

United States.

2. Nearly fifty years later, NFL player Colin Kaepernick took a knee during

the National Anthem for the flag saying, “ I am not going to stand up to

show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people, and people

of color”. According to the article Respect for flag, anthem, nation, the

protest is in the attempt to “raise the conscience of their fellow Americans,

embrace equality, justice and safety for every citizen”.

3. In retrospect, Native Americans may have a different perspective. To

Native Americans, honoring flag might mean a different anthem, is an

article written that speaks on the 567 Native American tribes and how they

honor the American flag. When asked about the controversy of taking a

knee, Erny Zah from the Navajo Nation in the Southwest said “I’ll stand.

I’ll do whatever I think is appropriate to honor them first, and then over

there, I can debate about whether the country is living up to its side of the

deal” ( To Native Americans, honoring flag might mean a different

anthem) . This is an important concept to grasp, considering the hundreds

of years of suffering the Native Americans have endured due to the white

man taking their land and often being denied citizenship or the right to

vote. So why do Native Americans hold such high regard for the

American flag? According to this article “American Indians have served

in the U.S military at higher rates per capita than any other ethnic group”.

In Native American culture defending one's native land and serving their

country “is considered a continuation of warrior traditions” (To Native

Americans, honoring flag might mean a different anthem). Native

Americans hold the highest regard for their warriors, some tribes have

their own flag songs aka anthems for their veterans. With their culture

being so closely intermingled with veterans and the flag, it is almost

unthinkable for them in the debate of taking a knee. One flag song sung on

the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota says “under the nations flag,

generations will stand forever. So do I”. Native Americans having this

unique relationship with the flag, shows a different perspective and sheds

light on the unity that we all share as Americans “under the nations flag”.

II. Immigration & the Flag

A. 1944 Allentown Flag Day celebration

B. Interview with Veronica Castillo

1. Looking into the NC Live database I found an article called, Flag day celebrates

the gift of immigrants. In this article the history of flag day is presented in a

positive light that celebrates immigration. The Allentown Flag Day Association is

the oldest flag day association in the country. In June of 1944, 178 immigrants

were seeking citizenship in Allentown Pennsylvania; “The Morning Call”

newspaper printed the story that the Allentown flag day celebration would begin

as soon as soon as Judge James H. Henninger and Harold W. Helfrich passed

citizenship for all 178 applicants. This moment in history sheds light on the fact

that flag day commemorates immigrants and symbolizes unity, “there is an old

saying that an immigrant is a person who got off the boat 24 hours after you”

(Flag day celebrates the gift of immigrants).

2. The next part of immigration and the flag that I wish to discuss is an interview I

had with my friend Veronica. Veronica is a Peruvian native who has been an

American citizen for 25 years. She has lived in many places and has a lot of

experience in American culture as well as her own in Peru. Looking into different

perspectives is important in understanding why we should respect the American

flag and I wanted to know what she thought about the topic. Veronica always

shoots me the truth in what she believes so I asked Veronica “why do you think

people should respect the American flag”? Her personal view is that “I respect the

United States flag because it represents the endurance and sacrifice of the

American people. Starting with our founding fathers, our precursors and

visionaries that wanted to live free from tyranny when this country was born. It

represents an ideology that everyone is equal, that we have freedoms. Not every

country experiences that”. The next question I asked Veronica was “ What does it

mean to you to be an American”? She replied “ To be an American to me is

believing in the supreme law of the land and the bill of rights , the freedoms that I

enjoy everyday. When I became an American citizen, I read the constitution and it

is a document like no other document. Our country was built on it”. When I asked

Veronica “what thoughts come to mind when you see people disrespecting the

flag”? She said “whoever disrespects the American flag did not learn American

history. It is an honor to live under that flag. The people that disrespect the

American flag do not know what it is like to live in an oppressed country, no

rights, no guarantees that your life would be respected or your own ideas be

heard”. The last question I wanted to know was “how is the perspective different

in Peru vs. America when it comes to respecting the countries flags”? Veronica

responded with “in Peru we respect our flag, we do not burn or step on it. We use

to have civic classes in school. We learned to love our country and flag. What we

are missing in Peru is that our constitution is not written well and nobody reads it.

Here because we enjoy so many freedoms, people are spoiled and believe that

disrespecting the flag is part of those freedoms. Those people should serve in the

military or travel overseas to see what an honor it is to live under the American


III. Empathy

A. The 13 folds

B. Me & Old Glory

1. The flag folding ceremony of the 13 folds is a tradition that is available for

every veterans burial service who honorably served. The American

Legion’s website explains each of these folds and their symbolism. The

first fold is the symbol of life, second fold is for our belief in eternal life,

the third fold is in honor of the veteran departing, the fourth fold

represents trusting in God and “the fifth fold is a tribute to our country”.

The sixth fold is for “where our hearts lie”, we say the pledge of

allegiance with our hands over our heart, the seventh fold is dedicated to

the armed forces, the eighth fold is to honor the veteran that passed and

their mother. The ninth fold is dedicated to “womanhood”, the tenth fold is

a tribute to the fathers as well who have given their children in defending

our country, the eleventh fold for hebrews “represents the lower portion of

the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies, in their eyes, the

God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”. The twelfth fold for christians

symbolizes God, the father, son and holy spirit. The last step before

presenting the flag is the twelfth step in which the flag is folded

completely and the stars are upright, this represents the nation's motto “in

God we trust”.

2. I had to ask myself why do I respect the American flag? Growing up in a

non military family like I did, it is hard to grasp the understanding of the

true sacrifices these soldiers and their families make. Now at the age of 28

I can say that my respect for the American flag comes from the deep

emotional sacrifices that my children and I have endured. Private Darnell,

of the United States Army Operation Iraqi Freedom died September 3rd

2015. He was displayed in his uniform in a flag draped coffin. This flag

was then folded 13 times and handed to me, I cannot explain the feeling of

holding that flag; I have known what the flag means to me ever since that

day and it is the sacrifices that we have made that unite us in respecting

the American flag.

CONCLUSION: If ever in question as to whether you should stand and respect the American

flag, there are three reasons to take into consideration. The first being the different perspectives

others may have, next recognize the unity that it brings and above all, have empathy for those

who have died for and were buried under the American flag.


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