What We Stand For
For religious reasons a little over fifty years ago at the Armed Forces Examining and Entrance Station in Houston, Texas, a rich, famous, powerful American conscientiously objected to our country’s involvement in the war in Viet Nam. He happened to be a giant in the world of sports. He would also tell anyone who listened how pretty he was.
As a result of his peaceful protest he was accused by many of being un-American and un-Patriotic. The government told him he could no longer earn a living doing what he’d shown the world he could do so well. Some people called him a son of a bitch. They were mostly the thoughtless, ignorant ones who in time would become irrelevant.
In part because this conscientious objector did not take a step forward our country had a chance to take its own step forward. (Quoting President John Kennedy, “With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth…”)
Years later, after our conscientious objector mostly lost his ability to speak and was no longer viewed as a threat, he became for many a symbol of America, representing to and for the rest of the world America in full.
Today there are those who stand because they love America and those who kneel for the same reason. Walt Whitman spoke for all of us when he said, “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”
This morning (and/or mourning) I hear and understand those who stand, and I stand with those who kneel.