I am many things – a husband, father, grandfather, Catholic, American, a fat guy, a journalist, a business owner . . . Like everyone, the list could go on. We all are a lot of things – some that define our character, some that don’t.
And there are some of those things (even though pride is not something we’re supposed to focus on) that I am proud of – journalist being one. That may not be a wise thing to say in today’s world, but I tend to think of journalism as a profession that chronicles life in home towns and not so much the muck-raking version others see.
Then I read an article from the New York Times and I don’t feel so proud.
You’ve surely heard of this insanity by now. If not, a reporter named Julia Jacobs had a 1,350-word piece published last week that questions television stations for playing the Star-Spangled Banner.
“. . . the decision to revive the anthem tradition comes at a time when overt allegiance to “The Star-Spangled Banner” has become one of the lines that separate blue and red America.”
“Overt allegiance.”
Are you kidding me?
Sorry, Ms. Jacobs but good men and women died for that allegiance. I believe I’m a lot older than you, but I was taught that overt allegiance is what got this country on its feet and helped us stay there.
Now it’s a bad thing?
How upside down has life turned? How far down the rabbit hole have we fallen? Americans are either red or blue, and if you are blue (I’m assuming that’s what Ms. Jacobs is saying) the national anthem is a sore point? I’m not a big fan of Nancy Pelosi and some of her closest friends, but I’ll bet they don’t have a problem with the anthem.
The article points out that hundreds of TV stations around the U.S. have brought back the practice of playing the anthem at sign-on or sign-off. Like many of you, I’m old enough to remember when stations really did sign on and sign off. There were no infomercials in the middle of the night (which, in my advancing years I’m watching since I don’t sleep like I used to). Apparently, some stations have started playing the anthem early in the morning as a way to signal the start of a new programming day.
Good for them.
Here’s the thing that I don’t believe young Ms. Jacobs understands.
We are a nation that fought to get to where we are. At some point in the future, could be sooner, could be later, we may have to fight again. One of the things that has pulled us through tough times is our belief that we live in the greatest country in the world – our patriotism.
In her article, she brings up Colin Kaepernick and others who have knelt during the playing of it. I didn’t agree with their choice of protest, but hey, it’s a free country. Truth to tell, there are some things Kaepernick says that are correct. What we did to native Americans was not OK. Slavery was not OK. Racial segregation was not OK. Persecution, bigotry, lying, cheating, stealing (another list that could go on) . . . not OK.
We haven’t always been on the right side of history. Don’t really know any nation or any group that has. For the most part though, we have stuck together when we had to. Instead of allowing our misdeeds and our mistakes to define and divide us, we kept on going with the hope that better men and women would prevail.
We haven’t gotten it perfect. But we’re trying.
However, we have reached a point in this country where right and wrong are being left out of the equation and left and right are taking their place. Some of us have apparently decided we don’t have to do our share; that it’s OK to sit back and let others do the work for our benefit. We have begun using the Constitutional process of impeachment as a political strategy. We’re even at a point where we teach our children that they don’t have to earn their way or try really hard, that they are all going to get a trophy – no matter what. What we fail to tell them is that it’s hard to respect those who don’t work hard.
Our problems are far more complicated than sports, but perhaps there is an analogy there worth consideration. A couple of decades ago the powers that be in Indiana high school sports decided to create multiple classes in basketball so that little schools could have more opportunities to win a championship. I always thought with 300 schools going after one championship that the biggest lesson wasn’t winning. After all, only one school got to do that. The real and so-very valuable lesson came when 300+ schools lost. What did they learn? The same thing life teaches us – if you want to win, work harder.
When did we forget that?
Look, I’m not the smartest guy in the room. I sure don’t work at the New York Times, just a little paper in little old Indiana. But here are three things I know.
First, it used to be that we compared our nation to a family. Sure, brothers and sisters can argue and fight amongst themselves all they want. But let an outsider step in and they’ll come together to take on that stranger faster than you can sing, “Oh say can you see.”
Second, that’s not as true as it used to be.
And third, whether Ms. Jacobs likes it or not, we are one nation today. If we aren’t careful and if we don’t get off what has become an awfully slippery slope is anyone sure about tomorrow?

Two cents, which is about how much Timmons said his columns are worth, appears periodically in The Paper. Timmons is the publisher of The Paper and can be contacted at ttimmons@thepaper24-7.com.