Most people stand for the “Star-Spangled Banner” because they believe others expect them to. Standing is an act of compliance, submission, a substitute for the real thing that may or may not be in the hearts and minds of those standing.
If this were not true, those daytime patriots would jump from their couches, hands over chests to “honor” the anthem and flag when alone in their living rooms before a televised game, which of course no one does. That’s because standing for the anthem is a show, theater, ostentatiously performed to impress others.
I am expressing patriotism by writing these words. Standing for the anthem doesn’t express respect, or understanding and love of America, it expresses a desire to not stand out. Schoolchildren learn about our nation’s ideals, laws, cultures and institutions.
If we are lucky, some of them will grow to rise above the need to submit and conform and reach up to make America greater, to come closer to the more perfect union that prior generations also strove for. That is where we will find true patriotism, not in a forced ritual of dubious pedigree.
Ray West, Springville