“This Flag Is Presented On Behalf Of A Grateful Nation In Appreciation For The Honorable Service Rendered By Your Loved One…. (name of fallen hero). 

At the end of the Military Funeral Service the American Flag covering the coffin is attended to by a military team whose duty is to remove and fold the Flag into an exact, tight, triangle. Once folded it is formally handed to the attending Senior Officer, or Military Chaplain, for presentation to the family. This most solomn military ceremony has been repeated millions of times, for over for two hundered years, to honor our country’s bravest and best….our fallen military heroes.

When the folded American Flag is presented to the family of a former servicemember who has lived a long life after serving his or her country it is a symbol of hope and pride for the family. They are recalling their loved one with the knowledge that he or she served the nation and often times did so in time of war. They are grateful for the receiving of the folded American Flag. It is treasured as a memory of their loved ones life and service to his or her nation.

When the folded American Flag is presented to the family of a military member who has fallen in war, or during the service of his or her country, it is also a symbol of hope and pride….but it is so much more.  The receiving of the folded American Flag in these services is crushing…it hurts…it passes from the Officer to the family member with an importance that no one can imagine unless they are receiving it in this way. The familly member clutches it with a tightness that is almost audible. The American Flag they just received was on their servicmembers coffin from the battlefield to the home front, and now to the cemetery, their loved one’s final resting place. They leave the service not with their loved one….but with the “Folded American Flag” , a physical symbol of the bravery and sacrifice of their fallen hero for the freedom and safety of all Americans. 

“The National Anthem NFL Player Protests Are An Affront To Most Americans, Veterans, And The Families Of Our Fallen Heroes” :

I am tempted to take the arguments being made to support the National Anthem protests and counter them one by one in this article. The arguments made by these players; they are doing a peaceful protest, it is not meant to disrespect the flag, it is a matter of free speech to do so, it is about police brutality and racism, it is about opportunities for minorities who are limited due to so called white privilege, are all shallow at best, and outright wrong at worst.  Rather, I will respond to these arguments in another piece, at a later time.

All Nations Have National Anthems:  During the Olympics when Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners stand on the podium, before the entire world, to receive their medals the National Anthem of the Gold Medal winner is played for all to hear and recognize.  The playing of the winning country’s anthem is a sign of respect and acknowledges all the good and honorable things of that nation. No one hearing the German, Russian, or Chinese anthems thinks about the negatives, both past and present, of those nations. Rather, we think of the atheletes and the hope for peace and prosperity for all in the future.  Likewise our Star Spangled Banner, when played before a game or event, represents our positives as a nation. It is not about a “perfect nation”, but rather a nation that is good and will become even better. It is about gratitude and hope.

Dignity, Decorum, Responsibility:  There is a time and place to protest. Jim Brown, Hall of Fame running back from the Cleveland Browns, who spent most of his post NFL career fighting for social justice and change had this to say on the knee takers;  he states he respects their right to do what they want but his preference is for them to stand during the Star Spangled Banner….

“I’ll never kneel, and I will always respect the Flag”.

Jim Brown was one of the best running backs of all time, an African American who never made the mega millions in salaries and endorsements of today’s players.  He grew up in the pre-civil rights era and knew prejudice and injustice first hand.

Jim Brown has always worked for equality and justice for minorities.  Today he is 82 years old and still actively working for social justice and change. Yet Jim Brown respects the National Anthem. Our Star Spangled Banner stands for the best of America’s past and present, and the hope for a postive future for all.  Jim Brown also knows that “Dignity and Decorum” matter.  He realizes that as a player, and former player, he is a role model which translates into a “Responsibility” toward his fans, both young and old alike.

Every American Should Attend A Military Funeral:  I suggest the next time a fallen hero is honored these protesting players attend the funeral.  After seeing the Flag being taken from the coffin, folded, and then given to the Senior Officer for presentation to the family member of the fallen hero, they will no longer protest during our National Anthem.  They will have understood the importance of dignity, decorum, and responsibility, and will take their protest to another time and a better place. They will understand why Jim Brown said…

“I’ll never kneel…and I will always respect the Flag”.


Michael Hawke