For the flag or anthem, ‘I will stand’

I don’t often jump on the bandwagon, nor do I write about the whims of the week. But mid-afternoon last Friday, I looked up and saw 4-year-old Titus the Honorable in my office doorway. This was a delightful surprise. Normally when he comes to my office, I can hear him running down the hall to burst in with a big grin and hug. Then he gets into the “Poppy snacks,” which, like any good grandparent, I have stashed out of the way in plain sight. But this time. he didn’t do any of those things. He just stood there quietly.

His mother came up behind him and said, “Titus, go ahead.”

He stood at attention and began to speak in his whispery voice: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands.”

He paused for several seconds so he could recall the rest. “One nation under God” (another slight pause), “indvisibvibly, with liberty and justice for all.”

This old poppy’s heart swelled with pride as my little grandson waited for my approval. I broke out in spontaneous applause, and he ran over for his Poppy snack.

I have observed the controversy over those who have chosen to kneel instead of stand when the national anthem is played. I love my country. I have friends who have given their lives so we can be the land of the free. So I might be biased, but I want you to know that I will stand whenever we say the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States or the national anthem is played.

“I will stand” because respect comes from one’s character.

Titus, my buddy, respect is a rare commodity these days. Many years ago, I had the privilege of working with Dr. Warren Hultgren at First Baptist Church of Tulsa. One of the things I admired most about him was that no matter who entered our church – homeless people, people who held to different value systems – no matter what color they were or how they smelled, he treated them so they went away feeling respected. This came from his character.

I would dare to say those who don’t respect the flag might have also have a problem respecting parents, senior adults, policemen, government officials, teachers, clergy, military personnel and those behind the grocery-store counter. If I read the Bible correctly, showing respect was part of Jesus’ character. He respected the woman at the well and the blind man as well as the beggar. He never imposed himself on others but respected the free will He gave us. Respect comes from one’s character.

“I will stand” because I was taught to do so.

Every morning before class began in our little country school, we would stand at attention, put our hands on our hearts and recite the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag. That little school ingrained into me the idea that certain things deserved respect. We respected the flag, our teacher and the rules already put in place. If we failed to do so, we would experience logical consequences.

“I will stand” because I see the whole, not the part.

Yes, I know some things are wrong in our country, our society and our culture, but those are just parts of the whole. I have served and worked in areas of the world that lack the freedoms we have. In some of these places, we had to meet underground to worship or even bring up the name of Jesus. If we had been discovered, we would have been sent to prison. I am also thankful we can say “one nation under God.” In many parts of the world, the idea of a supreme deity is not allowed. Yes, we do have the freedom to protest things we consider wrong, but there is a time and place for that.

“I will stand” because I want to be a role model for the next generation.

Children learn more from what they see than what they hear. I grew up in the shadow of those we call “the greatest generation.” Their sacrifice provided me with great role models. But who are the role models for this generation? We have shifted from having role models to heroes and idols. So as young eyes are watching the television, I wonder what they are learning about our country.

Titus, my little buddy, I am so proud of you. I hope you will stand and respect our flag and national anthem for the rest of your life. I know the word “indivisible” is hard to pronounce. It means “unable to be divided or separated.” I pray that God and country will always be “indvisibvible” in your life.

God bless Titus and the USA.