An old soldiers’ adage is that bullets don’t discriminate on a battlefield and that blood, all blood, flows red.
It doesn’t matter if that blood comes from a general or a private, a man or a woman, a person on your side of the fight or an enemy, or a person of a different ethnicity or creed.
While our nation’s service branches haven’t always been quite so discrimination-free, the bullets, artillery shells and bombs have been the equalizer.
That’s why I’m so confused over these don’t stand for the flag and/or anthem movements.
The old sergeant major who oversaw the Marine Corps ROTC program at the high school I attended was a highly-decorated Vietnam veteran with the battle scars to back it up. He was also a black man.
My neighbor paid in battle field pain and blood the price typically labeled “above and beyond the call of duty” to earn a chest full of ribbons too. He happened to be a Hispanic man.
Anyone who knows me or has ever seen me can testify that I’m so white that I go straight to lobster red in the sun, rarely stopping at anything resembling a tan.
But I would never, ever, dishonor the service of those two men, my family members who have served and several million more who’ve worn the assorted uniforms of this nation by failing to stand for the flag.
Now I’m an Army brat, so it typically amazes me the average civilian’s lack of historical knowledge. That’s not to say I’m an expert, but I know the significance of Franklin, Tenn., and the echoes of pain still lingering there. I know why red poppies are significant. I remember old men who still got quiet and shook when the Battle of the Bulge was mentioned. I remember fellow children who could never have a balloon because if it popped Daddy would think he was under attack again.
We just observed another anniversary of the Sept. 11 attack – 3,037 killed in the name of hate.
If you are interested, 2,435 of the victims were white, 286 black, 187 an assortment of other ethnicities and, sadly, in 139 cases, the remains were so damaged by the intense heat that we just don’t know who they were and may never.
Twelve of those black individuals in New York were firefighters racing to help.
At the Pentagon, 184 were killed. Among those, 120 were white and 49 black.
In that Pennsylvania field? Thirty-six were white and three black.
That’s just one example, one sad day in the nation’s history.
We used a flag at half staff nationwide to mourn their loss – all of them.
When a solider, airman, sailor or marine is killed in the service to this nation, a flag is draped over the coffin. All of them.
When an honorably discharged veteran dies, his or her family has the option of having the coffin draped by a flag. All of them.
There’s the option of a military or veterans honor guard too. All of them.
It’s a matter of respect – for all of them.
When you refuse to stand for the flag or the anthem how are you not dishonoring them?
All of them.
– Shannon Crabtree is editor & publisher of the El Campo Leader-News.