“It’s a shame that some people would use our country’s greatest symbol of selfless service for a selfish act.”

JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri- Governor Eric Greiens, a former Navy SEAL,  posted his thoughts on the NFL anthem controversy  Wednesday:

“The flag brings real patriots to their feet, not their knees.

In the military, every one of us wore the American flag. In fact, it’s one of the only common features of all military uniforms. You could be in a different branch, have a different rank, wear different awards—but all soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines wore the stars and stripes.

You didn’t just wear it every day. One of the first things they teach you in the military is how to salute. It’s a precise, practiced movement, and it is governed by a set of rules. You practice your salute over and over again until you get it right. And believe me, your drill instructors make sure you get it right. Why? Because, as we were taught, the salute is how members of the military show their respect to each other—and it is also how we pay respect to the flag.

Even today, out of uniform, my body reacts by instinct when I see the flag. Eyes front. Heels together. Toes apart. Back straight. Arms at my side. Watch a crowd the next time a flag is raised or brought out in a parade. You can pick out—straight away—the people who served in the military. They’ll be standing at attention.

The US military honors the flag in other ways, too. There are units in the service called Honor Guards: their job is protect the flag, to bring it to funerals, to make sure it is cared for and folded in accordance with our rules. Being selected for one of these units is a high honor.

 

At night, on US bases around the world, the flag is lowered with care, folded 13 times, and placed under watch. It is unfolded with devotion early each morning and raised aloft. That too is a sacred duty.
From the moment a slain American service member is placed inside a casket, a flag covers them. When the body is set to be lowered into the ground, that flag is folded, and given to the family of the fallen—a symbol of our country’s devotion to them and their loved one’s devotion to our country.

These are some of the most important rituals in the military, as vital as any of our drills or the maintenance of our equipment. In the service, we gave the flag its proper respect.

When the flag is raised, we stand as Americans. We stand because America represents a promise that is larger than all of us. When people refuse to stand for the flag, they make that moment about them. It’s a shame that some people would use our country’s greatest symbol of selfless service for a selfish act.

We’ll always have differences as a country, but the flag deserves reverence from all of us, no matter our disagreements. That’s what I was taught, and it’s what I will teach my children. God bless the United States, our servicemen and servicewomen, and our flag.”