What does it mean to respect the flag? Country? Veterans? What does it mean to be a patriot?

I am a veteran who has served in the U.S. Army. The measure of my service is far less than some and infinitely more than others. When the National Anthem plays, I stand at attention, facing the flag with my right hand over my heart, which tends to beat a little quicker for the experience. I do so for what the flag and the anthem represent — the fact that this nation is free.

Freedom is the most important aspect of my respect for the flag. It means that I make a conscious choice to display that respect. Without that choice, there can be no respect, for there would be no freedom. Standing would be nothing but an obligation. Were the government to try and remove that choice, I would be inclined to sit during those times. It would be my patriotic duty to do so in order to restore that freedom and that respect.

When others make the same kind of protest, even for different reasons, it is my patriotic duty to fairly evaluate their motives and, when appropriate, aid them in making this country a better place. That this nation allows us to do so is our greatest freedom and our greatest show of patriotism. Without that freedom, our sacred symbols mean nothing and are not worthy of respect or the sacrifices that have been made to maintain them.

David Leclerc, Bethel

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