The meaning of patriotism

If you read Colin Kaepernick’s biography on Wikipedia, you will learn that he has had nothing but success in both the classroom and in athletics. But some how during 16 years in academia his teachers, instructors and professors failed to teach him the meaning, and understanding, of patriotism. His mind set and body language during the playing of our national anthem in the eyes of millions of veterans is that of a “jerk,” and that’s a mild word compared to what we really feel. Personally, I think that he possesses what philosophers would call “an erroneous conscience.” He just came up with the wrong answer, but believes he has made a correct decision — his thought process is 2+2=5! Now, contrast Kaepernick, a young man making millions of dollars, with a young lady I know who was kept home from school at age 15 to care for an ailing mother.

In Altoona, along 19th Street in the Red Hill section is a monument dedicated to the veterans of WWI and WWII. On Memorial Day in 1968, relatives, friends and neighbors of these veterans gathered at the monument to pay tribute and honor to their veterans. Among the crowd was this 34-year-old woman accompanied by her 7-year-old son. This lady was born in Ashville and had three older brothers who were veterans of WWII, and she had no music or voice training of any kind.

The MC for the program announced that all should join in singing the national anthem to end the program, yet no one sang a word. Through the eerie and awkward silence, this woman stepped forth and sang “The Star Spangled Banner” with no accompaniment from any of the 50 or so gathered. Her understanding of patriotism, following the dictates of her conscience, was correct and admirable.

I know this story is true because a few years later that lady became my wife. 

Ken Criste, a retired lieutenant colonel, Army Reserve, lives in State College.