By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Ok, I’ll bite. I’ve tried, in vain apparently, to avoid commenting on the one controversy that has completely taken over professional football – people taking a knee during playing of the “Star Spangled Banner” aka the national anthem.
First off, let me state for the record that I always stand for the national anthem. I take off my ever-present golf cap and hold my hand over my heart.
With that being said, let me state that I really could care less what anyone else does. For years prior to this controversy, I’ve observed that less and less people at games put their hand over their heart. Back in the old days, when I played sports as a youth, teenager, and adolescent, it was almost 100 percent. Nowadays, it might be half of the spectators who place their hand over their heart…and, that’s probably on a good day.
Granted, they aren’t kneeling. But, not placing your hand over your heart seems like a calculated move as well. The people who don’t do that are not doing that for some reason.
Recent NFL games have been dominated with talk of this, and it’s become tiresome. I don’t agree that the President of the United States should have gotten involved in this debate. Doesn’t he have more important things to worry about? He should.
The problem with things like this is that the original reason for the kneeling has been all but lost. When Colin Kaepernick first took a knee, he stated his reasoning. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he told NFL Media. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Ok, so, he’s upset about people of color being oppressed. Why protest the flag? The flag represents the people of the United States of America, not the government of the U.S.A. We’re all that flag, not just those in Congress and the White House.
Nobody in Indian Country would argue that oppression has most definitely occurred and still occurs in some parts today. But, again, it’s not the whole country. Not everyone in the country is an oppressor.
I can’t, in good faith, take a knee or protest the flag while there are men like Medal of Honor recipient Charles George who jumped on a grenade, causing his death moments later, in defense of all of us. I can’t take a knee thinking of former Principal Chief Robert S. Youngdeer, a decorated World War II veteran, who has for years stood for the national anthem with the aid of a cane or his fellow veterans.
I’ve been to the actual site of the mass grave containing those murdered in the Wounded Knee Massacre. I’ve been to the actual site where 38 Dakota men were hung at the order of President Abraham Lincoln. I’ve seen oppression in Indian Country in South Dakota, Oklahoma, and here in Cherokee.
But, oppressors come and go and do not represent the entirety of our country. Indian Country and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is too strong to even worry about a few ‘oppressors’.
So, I’ve rambled…what’s my stance? I stand for the national anthem. If some choose not to, that’s their choice. This is a free country we live in…or, at least that’s what we’re told…so, if people choose to take a knee, while I might not necessarily agree, what business is it of mine? I’m not the flag police.
Speaking of flag police, I’ll tell you one thing I would like to see changed. According to the U.S. Flag Code Section 7(g), “When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height…International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace.”
Well, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is a nation isn’t it? It’s a sovereign nation. So, with that being said, why does the U.S. flag fly above the EBCI tribal flag all over the Cherokee Indian Reservation? They should be equal.