Saluting the Flag
By Bob Branco
July 13, 2018
Several days ago, there was a meeting of our local amateur radio club. According to what I heard, the President of the club administered the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag prior to meeting business. When one of the members refused to salute the flag, the President told him to salute it or he would be thrown out of the meeting. Now, we all know where this stems from. This is just part of an ongoing trend where Americans are protesting our flag. Anyway, the friend who told me this story believes that the President of the amateur radio club was violating the man’s right not to salute the flag, and that there should not be politics mixed in with meeting business. I realize that the man who refused to salute the flag at that meeting has the right not to do so, and that the President of the club may have been a bit overzealous. With that in mind, I gently reminded my friend that for the past 60 years, I’ve had to salute the flag in school, at meetings, and anywhere else where either I or others led the Pledge. When we said the Pledge of Allegiance, there was no problem. No one questioned why we did it. No one wondered how somebody would be punished if he refused to say it. No one ever thought that politics was mixed in with meeting or school business. The pledge was simply a part of the routine and was never questioned or commented on. It was simply done. Today, we have to wonder who’s right and who’s wrong, how a protester should be punished, how a protester’s rights are violated, and how it’s not appropriate to mix politics with business.
First of all, I never regarded the Pledge of Allegiance as an act of politics, but again, I know why it’s believed to be politics today. As far as violating the rights of someone who protests, the protester should thank America for allowing him the freedom to protest. With that said, I believe that there is a certain degree of respect required toward this country. It was never a problem when I was growing up. No one ever said to my teachers, “Darn it. Do I have to salute that bloody flag over there?” Even the school bullies didn’t complain.
I believe that a lot of this is directly related to the fact that Donald Trump is our President. Whether we like our President or not, this should have nothing to do with our flag and what it represents. Our country was never perfect, and it never will be. Our founding fathers had a mission for our country, and despite the fact that some people believe that their mission is compromised, it doesn’t take away from the root or meaning of our freedoms and everything else that America stands for.
One of my friends wrote a book about America. In the book, the author doesn’t understand why President Trump wants to make America great again when it’s already great. Well, if it’s already great, then why this sudden disregard for our flag?
Someone else commented that we shouldn’t be made to salute anything. Although nobody can make us do something that we don’t want to do, saluting the flag, saying thank you, opening a door, or offering a helping hand are forms of respect which should always be taught to little children so that they can apply it and pass it onto the next generation. When I was in school, no one believed that this country was a dictatorship just because we were asked to say the Pledge of Allegiance. Yet today, this implication has been mentioned. When we teach our children to say please and thank you, are we being dictatorial? Of course not. We are simply teaching the act of respect.
As long as I live in this country, despite its problems, I will continue to honor tradition wherever and whenever it’s required, including the saluting of our honorable flag. In many other countries in the world, there is no such freedom to do that.