Anyone who has ever attended a Baltimore Orioles game knows that we Orioles fans are famous for shouting “O!” during the singing of the National Anthem.
This, of course, can be heard the loudest in our home Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, but many of us have heard it on the road from Miami to LA. One is less likely to hear it any of our AL East rival cities like Boston or New York, but we yell it anyway to many dirty looks.
When it comes to the National Anthem, I tend to be a traditionalist. Protocol and etiquette are important to me. I admit to feeling slightly guilty yelling “O!” during the singing of such a sacred national song when one should technically be standing at attention.
Meanwhile, Colin Kapernick, a football player for the San Francisco 49’ers has decided not to stand at all.
That bothered me. A lot. I said a lot of uprintable words about it. I may have even suggested that he book a one way flight to North Korea and see if he likes it better there.
But then I realized that if I am truly an American, I am obligated to accept the fact that he is exercising his Constitutional right to public protest.
Asked why he refused to stand for the National Anthem he stated to NFL Media: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way….”
Why, just outside our lovely little brick-lined Oriole Park at Camden Yards is one example of that of which he is speaking. The place where Freddie Gray, an unarmed African-American man died last spring in police custody, sparking rioting and violence in the City of Baltimore. An issue, of course, not exclusive to Baltimore.
If Kapernick’s intention is to bring more light to these issues in the hope of finding solutions, then good.
But I see the National Anthem differently. To me, it represents something much bigger than the issues before us today. It is a fight song. It says that despite the perilous fights before us, despite the bombs bursting in air, we can prevail.
While we are far from perfect, we are still the best deal in the world.
For that reason, I will always stand.
“O!” say, can you see?