Monday, May 26, 2014

Silence During the National Anthem

         I live on four acres just south of Upper Sandusky in Wyandot County. Enjoy visiting the cities, but I a small town guy. Really I am a country guy, but enjoy the small town life. Today was a good day to really appreciate where I live.
        Hunter (my lab) and my friend Tina stood and watched all 15 minutes of our local parade. The mayor. The local high school band. The color guard. The Memorial Day speaker. Some youth programs. Really that was about it. But all was fun.
        On to the park for the Memorial Day service. The guest speaker was  retired Lt. Colonel Mike Emerine who gave a brief history of the some of the Wyandot County men who were killed in the different wars. Not all on the list, but he did mentioned some family names. His talk was both interesting and brought back some old memories. Mike and I spent many hours playing sports at Upper Sandusky back in the 60's and are still good friends to this day.
        Being around sports for over 50 years and attending many high school games during the fall, I have heard the national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner, just a few times. Today was different. As we stood, no one was asked to "remove their hats." The announcer did not give the generic - "Freedom, like no other." Everybody stood, and with the band and the vocalist, sang the National Anthem.
         What I am not used to is that there were no sounds, other than the music. No people talking, no high school fans chattering, no adults talking on the sidelines, and no players were still talking on the sidelines. No crowd cheers before the music was finished.
          Better yet, although I do not look around to watch people, everyone between the flag and me was looking at the flag and standing still. That, I am also not used to. Nobody had his/her head down. Nobody was looking over the crowd. Nobody was walking to the concession. No teams were still warming up in the distance.
          One of the worst examples of some one staring at the floor during the National Anthem was at a varsity basketball game in Holmes County two years ago. The head coach was between the flag and me. He never looked at the flag. Needless to say, I emailed the AD, and , needless to say, I never got a response.
          Silence and everyone looking at the American flag. Oh my! That does not happen very often anymore.
          As a head football coach back in the day, many times my mind was not on the Star Spangled Banner. As a scout watching a game on the 100 degree turf in August, my mind is not always on the game. As a scout watching a game in late November or early December in cold weather, my mind is not always on the Star Spangled Banner. Removing my hat in the scorching sun or in the freezing cold is not something I really am into.
         I have this thing about freedom. I have only been to Canada and no other country. I have not experienced the freedoms of other countries. I appreciate the freedoms that I have in America enough, that standing still, removing my hat, and looking at the flag for a few minutes is do-able.
          Today was a wonderful day. Thought about three of my friends who were killed in the Vietnam War. Listen to the speech of my childhood friend, Mike Emerine. Remembered that I get disgusted at times with how society is changing. But, at 65, I always am always thankful for the freedoms that I have.
           Back to football tomorrow.

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