We need more patriots.
Sadly, patriotic fervor seems to be a waning virtue, and love of God, country, and family is something reserved for the archives of Americana.
The question becomes, how do we get back?
Congressman Tim Murphy, a Republican house member out of Pennsylvania, in response to the protests sparked by Colin Kaepernick, sent out invitations to area high schools and veterans organizations to join together for a dialogue on patriotism.
Before the discussion, the new Mel Gibson movie, “Hacksaw Ridge” was shown.
“Since then, other athletes including high school students have taken up the practice,” said Murphy. “I thought if perhaps we connected young people with those who have served or are currently serving, and had them view a movie that vividly tells the story of someone who bravely fought both for his country and for his ability to freely express himself, it might start changing minds.”
“Hacksaw Ridge” tells the true story of Desmond Thomas Doss, an Army corporal and combat medic during World War II who was the first conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor. The riveting film takes viewers from his youth in Lynchburg, Va., through his horrific struggles at boot camp and his bravery in Okinawa, Japan, during the war’s bloodiest battle in the Pacific Theater.
Did it have the desired effect?
Montana Elder, an 18-year old senior attending Mount Lebanon High School said that it was not her practice to stand when the Pledge of Allegiance played over the school intercom.
“It is not that I was protesting it — it is maybe even worse than that — it’s just that I was being lazy,” she said. She and her classmates check their cellphones or talk during the pledge.
“Tomorrow I will stand for the pledge in school. And the tomorrow after that, and every day. And every time I am somewhere where I am called to recite it, I will do the same thing,” she said.
Asked whether it displays courage to be the only one in a classroom who stands for the pledge, she added, “True bravery is what I saw displayed by Desmond Doss. He faced so much physical and mental adversity yet continued to stick to his core principles without flinching. The least I can do is stand for 40 seconds to honor our flag and those who fought to defend it.
“That is not bravery or courage, that is just the right thing to do.”
Whitney Washington, a 47-year old African-American attended the showing of the movie, as well.
She said that while she respected Kaepernick’s right to take a knee, that didn’t mean he should do it.
“There are plenty of black and white injustices that happen out in the country every day, and there are plenty of ways to get involved with changing them,” Washington said. “I just don’t think disrespecting the flag is one of them.”
She went on to say sports stars and entertainers shouldn’t be elevated as heroes, but rather it be community figures.
She’s not wrong, but being seen and promoted across mass media has a way of making these figures seem larger than life.
Kaepernick’s protest has caught fire, especially among the youth, who have emulated his actions, without really knowing why.
Here and in most western Pennsylvania towns, football is king and the “Friday night lights” tradition draws people to high school teams’ games, even if they do not have a kid on the field. It is the foundation of town pride and a way to unify a community.
Fifteen miles west, at Cornell School District in Coraopolis, school administrators rescheduled the high school’s homecoming game and banned all students from attending the event after 12 of the 15 football cheerleaders decided to take a knee during the national anthem in front of a color guard composed of veterans.
School Superintendent Aaron Thomas said in a statement that the event “challenged us in ways we didn’t think were possible prior to this.” He said district officials met with members of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 402, “where a great discussion occurred.”
And it is a conversation that needs to happen. The youth need to know why the Pledge and the National Anthem are important.
For now, It seems their only motive is to be trendy.
It’s time to make love of country the trend, again.
You can watch the trailer for “Hacksaw Ridge” here.