Ship, Shipmate, Self

One of the fundamental lessons I learned growing up was family first. We were the kind of family that ate dinner every night together. The TV was turned off and there were no other distractions allowed during family time. I come from a large family and there was always some soccer game or band practice happening so outside of dinner we were going in different directions. Still, the message growing up was family came first. The needs of the family unit were more important than the individual. Rent came before new shoes, groceries came before oboe reeds. As a working class family, that was the only way we could all thrive.

When I got to boot camp two weeks after graduating high school, the motto of ‘Ship, Shipmate, Self’ was quickly instilled. The ship always comes first. When in the heat of combat, keeping the ship in fighting order is the priority over anything else. Next is the person next to you. Their life supersedes your own which means do what it takes to save them. Only when those first two criteria are met could a sailor then tend to their own needs. Coming from a family first background, this motto didn’t require any real adjustment on my part. My crew was my family and their needs came before mine.

I didn’t leave that mentality behind when my time in the Navy ended. I like to think I’ve always lived by the ideal of Ship, Shipmate, Self. When it comes to family, church, and country I try to live by the Navy expression. To me this priority system is the only way to ensure success for everyone.

There is a shift in priorities in American culture today. It’s somewhere between ‘What’s in it for me’ and ‘Every man for himself’. This mindset guarantees success for some but usually at the expense of another. What does a society look like when individual success is valued over the collective success of a community? Something tells me we won’t have to wait very long to find out.

In the case of a Navy ship, it means certain disaster. If the Navy adopted an “Every Sailor for himself” motto, ships would turn tail and run at the first sign of combat. Sailors would leave their shipmates behind in a flooding compartment rather than risk going back for them. It’s hard to defend a country when your priority is your own life over that of others.

If I put my career and ambition over my family, I’d likely still be living in the Midwest. I would have missed watching my nephew Toby fight his battle with CHD and he would have missed out on my support of him. If I hadn’t welcomed my brother into my home last year and cared for him during his recovery from surgery, there is a good chance he wouldn’t be alive today. What has caring for my family cost me? A little money perhaps and my time. Yet what have I gained by putting my family before myself? The joy of watching Toby take his first steps, the pride in knowing my brother is happy and healthy for the first time in nearly a decade. What I gained by far outweighs any expense on my part.

Country, Community, Self

For six years of my life I put my country first when I served in the Navy. While my time in service wasn’t easy, the benefits of doing so again outweighed the personal cost. I take the time to vote in every election. I research the candidates and the issues and see both sides of an issue before making an informed decision. Outside of running for office or military service, voting is the best way to serve our country.

Where I struggle is with community. It’s easy to put my church community, my friends community, and my family community above self but what about the community in which I live? Yesterday I had a bag of fast food and a $20 dollar bill. I was stopped at a red light and there stood a homeless man desperate for anything. I hesitated. I didn’t need both and I knew if I gave him either I’d make his day. The light turned green and I drove off choosing self over community. It didn’t matter what he would have done with the money or the food. What mattered was how it would have made me feel to make the effort and help him out. Instead I did what so many of us do, I turned away and drove off.

I know this is an area of my life I need to work on and I hope I won’t be alone. Many of the social and economic problems facing our community and our country can be solved if more of us think of others before ourselves. I know it’s hard, I know most of us have busy lives making just enough to get by. We all think we’re stretched too thin and helping others just isn’t a priority when we need so much help ourselves. But isn’t that the whole point? We all need help, some more than others but wouldn’t an extra pair of hands make a world of difference even if it’s just an hour a week or a few minutes a day? I help you today, you help me tomorrow, and our combined load is lightened by our combined willingness to lend a hand.

The danger of course is always being the one to put others first in a community that doesn’t reciprocate. When that happens, the answer can’t be to stop putting others first. The answer could be to find another community but that doesn’t feel like a right answer either. If you have a good answer for that please let me know what it is!

I truly believe we can accomplish more as individuals, as a community, and as a country when we work together. Humans aren’t meant to go it alone. We need each other to not only survive, but to thrive as a civilization.

“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” -Spock

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Forward March!

Last year I had the privilege of marching with thousands of women on a peaceful January day in Seattle. It was empowering to see so many women gathered together seeking rights, freedom and justice for all.

This year when the women marched I watched from home for reasons that are unimportant. As I watched the live stream I read some of the comments and it struck me how many of them were negative. I could see how men might not understand the plight of women but many if not the majority of negativity I was seeing was coming from other women. While this doesn’t surprise me, it does get me frustrated.

One comment stated all those people were wasting their time and if they really wanted to help they should be volunteering somewhere and not marching and leaving garbage behind. Another said women should be grateful for the rights they already have rather than asking for more. I shook my head and scrolled on.

I understood why they marched, for the same reasons I marched a year ago. The right for women to vote didn’t come from writing letters to politicians and asking nicely. Civil rights didn’t come about by holding rallies in churches where outsiders weren’t disturbed. Making signs and taking to the streets is the most peaceful and effective way to demonstrate the need for change. To make it known to the public that change needs to happen, the people must go out and make noise, be inconvenient until change happens. It is not only our right but our responsibility to demand a fair shot and for our elected representatives to truly represent what we the people want, women included. For me and the millions that marched over the last two years, that means not only wanting a voice but wanting our voices to be heard loud and clear. Women’s rights are human rights, equal pay for equal work, and my body my choice.

Yet there are those voices who don’t want things to change, voices fine with the status quo because change is hard and we are “close enough”. I have struggled with figuring out why these women feel as they do. Are they women in abusive relationships who submit to their partner? Were they raised in a deeply religious environment where the patriarchy was the basis of everything? Have they been taught that women are second to men and simply don’t believe they can have better? If you are a woman reading this and you don’t believe in things like equal rights and equal pay, please comment and tell me why!

Close enough isn’t good enough, not for me, not for my sisters and nieces; we deserve a fair shot at life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. While I wasn’t at the march on Saturday this year in person, I was there in spirit. I will continue to write letters and engage with people who think and feel differently than I do so I may seek to understand, to find common ground upon which we all can build a better future.

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Yes We Can

In the 24th century there is no poverty on Earth, everyone has the healthcare they need and all the education they could ever want. The acquisition of wealth is no longer a driving force for mankind. Instead humans work to better themselves through knowledge and the exploration of human potential. At least that was Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future.

Last week as I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, a post from a friend I haven’t seen since elementary school popped out. This guy tends to rant when he posts and where politics are concerned, he picks on everyone so while I don’t usually agree with everything he says, I like to look for the common ground. This particular post started out with opinions I don’t believe are supported by facts saying the President doesn’t care what people say about him (I’d argue that’s about the only thing he cares about!). He goes on to say that liberals want free stuff and to be lazy, that America is a dying nation full of stupid people, and that we will never have things like universal healthcare, fair wages, and an affordable education.

Usually by this point, I’ve scrolled on as I generally don’t like reading all that negativity but for some reason, his words gave me pause. In my mind I went back to the 1700s, to colonial America. If Facebook were a thing back then I’d imagine his post would read something like, America will always be subject to British rule, we will never have taxation with representation, and freedom is a pipedream. If you were to ask a slave before the civil war about freedom, he’d tell you it will never happen. If you asked a woman during the revolution about going to college or starting her own business, she’d no doubt laugh at you. But slavery in this country was abolished and opportunities for women have expanded. Have we reached the finish line? Hell no but we’re a heck of a lot closer than when we started.

I believe we can have things like fair wages, affordable education and universal healthcare. I think those things in particular would make our country not only great but strong. A healthy, well educated people capable of earning a living without help doesn’t have to be a pipe dream. I realize it won’t happen overnight but to say it will never happen is grossly shortsighted in my opinion.

We the people get to decide what is important and where to place our priorities. We tell our elected officials what we want and if they can’t make it happen, we get to elect ones that can. It is folly to think we are incapable of moving forward. Just look at how far we’ve already come. I’m not convinced the future Gene Roddenberry imagines for the 24th century will ever become a reality, I think elements of human nature can’t be reconciled by then. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

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Sorry, not sorry

I have many personal heroes; unfortunately most of them live in the realms of books, movies, and television. It’s no secret I was a huge Star Trek fan growing up and Jean-Luc Picard taught me so much about integrity and standing up for the truth even when the consequences could be devastating.

I remember watching Star Trek: The Next Generation’s fifth season episode “The First Duty” and being disappointed at how long it took Wesley to admit he and his team lied about the circumstances surrounding a fellow cadet’s death. For those who aren’t familiar with this episode, Cadet Wesley Crusher and his academy flight squadron were engaging in a flight maneuver strictly banned by the institution. If they successfully pulled off this maneuver they would be lauded as heroes by their fellow trainees. Unfortunately for Wesley and his squadron, during practice something went wrong and his friend was killed as a result. His team tried to cover it up but as the saying goes, the truth will out. Picard invites Wesley to his ready room where he explains “the first duty of every Starfleet officer is to the truth!”

As I’ve grown and garnered more life experience, I can sympathize with young Cadet Crusher more than I did as a teenager. While I think the death of his friend should have been more than sufficient circumstances to compel him to tell the truth from the start, I can understand how remaining loyal to his squadron commander and his friends, lying to protect them as it were, could create a difficult choice. In the end Wesley does the right thing to honor his friend who died. He tells the truth and willingly faces the consequences. He owned his mistake.

While I can’t say this episode alone taught me this lesson, it certainly reinforced concepts I had learned growing up. There have been times I’ve made mistakes or taken a shortcut for the sake of expediency. Most of the time those situations worked out but on the occasion they didn’t, I didn’t lie. I owned my failures and faced the consequences. I’ve learned that when you own up to your mistakes, admit wrong doing and make the effort to correct them, the disappointment by others is balanced by a level of respect for making it right.

Lately I’ve seen an unfortunate trend in American culture when a wrong is committed. The offending individual is quick to place blame elsewhere, often at the feet of the person they just victimized! Our instinct is one of self-preservation and when someone is caught doing something wrong, whether embarrassed, entitled, or ignorant the offender generally refused to own up.

You say something you shouldn’t and it hurts someone. Do you deny you said it? Downplay and dismiss the context in which it was said? Tell the person you hurt they are too sensitive and to get over it? Or do you own it and apologize? Would it really be so bad to just admit you made a mistake and apologize for it?

What happens to a society when the people chosen to lead said society are incapable of owning their mistakes? When our leaders are unwilling and unable to say “I’m sorry,” can we really expect the rest of the country to do the right thing when they’ve done something wrong? Why is admitting you’ve made a mistake perceived as weakness? We all make mistakes; every single one of us is flawed and prone to error. A quick apology can defuse a situation but denying wrong doing only exacerbates the issue turning a minor offense into a major ordeal.

I am grateful for Picard and other fictional heroes who have taught me so well. I’ll stick with them instead of the lessons many current real life leaders would have me learn instead.

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The Nuclear Option

Anything relating to “nuclear” tends to strike fear in the hearts of most people. Most people don’t have a clear understanding of what “nuclear” means and human nature is to fear what isn’t understood. As someone who has worked at length in the nuclear power industry, I have a very healthy respect for the awesome power nuclear energy can provide. I also have an understanding of the devastation that power can cause when turned into a weapon. Yes, like most people, I fear nuclear war. My fear is not based on ignorance however; it’s based on knowledge available to anyone willing to seek it.

If there is one singular thing leaders of nations with a nuclear arsenal can never joke about, it’s the use of that arsenal. I am not exaggerating when I say these weapons can end civilization as we know it and there is nothing funny about that. In my opinion, any leader who makes light of using such weapons of mass destruction is wholly unfit to lead.

Let’s put some things into perspective. I think we can all agree the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II were pretty powerful and extremely devastating. The explosive yield of Little Boy, the bomb used on Hiroshima was about 15 thousand tons or 0.015 megatons. Fat Man, the bomb dropped on Nagasaki was a little bigger at about 21,000 tons or 0.021 megatons. Little Boy killed about 80,000 people instantly and more than 100,000 additional lives were lost in the aftermath. These two bombs decisively ended the war in Japan.

This was all back in 1945 and if there’s one thing Americans are really good at, it’s making things bigger! Today’s nuclear weapons yield an explosion anywhere from 1 kiloton to 1.2 megatons. These weapons are substantially larger and more powerful that those used on Japan and we have almost seven thousand of them!

When an atomic weapon detonates, its destructive capability isn’t limited to just the physical devastation resulting from the force of the blast. Nuclear weapons blast dust and particulates into the atmosphere and leave behind plumes of radioactive material. The radioactive plume can be carried on the wind and deposited hundreds or thousands of miles away. The dust can stay in the upper atmosphere and drive down temperatures on the Earth’s surface (not a realistic solution to the end of global warming in my opinion). If enough atomic bombs are detonated, it could devastate crops by blocking the sun and plunging the planet into a near ice age. There’s also that whole radiation sickness to contend with. When the dust finally settles, it won’t matter who started it, there won’t be a civilization left to pick up the pieces.

A nuclear war isn’t just a war between two sides. A nuclear war is global and no single nation however great has the right to decide the fate of the world.

“Except for fools and madmen, everyone knows that nuclear war would be an unprecedented human catastrophe.” – Carl Sagan

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Tolling the Information Superhighway

If you’re like me, you hate paying tolls. I already pay taxes for infrastructure and adding a few bucks every time I take a certain route irritates the hell out of me. Thankfully there are few roads tolled in the state of Washington (although that may change soon). Imagine having to pay tolls to use certain cyber roads on the internet. Doesn’t sound appealing does it? Well if the current commissioners of the FCC have their way, get ready to pay some tolls!

I pay a given amount of money each month to Frontier for my onramp at home to the internet. I also subscribe to a few streaming services like Netflix, CBS All Access, and Hulu. Thanks to current net neutrality laws, Frontier can’t limit my access to anything I may want to seek on the information superhighway. I can stream Netflix or Hulu with the exact same speed as any other website. But Frontier and other telecommunications company have the ability “throttle” or limit how fast I access certain websites. They could even block sites. Imagine Fox News was the only news site AT&T customers could access. Again because of current laws, they cannot do that.

If the FCC overturns the laws passed two years ago, I could see a huge change in how I access certain websites. Frontier could decide to lower the speed at which I access Netflix making streaming content very difficult. They could do this for any website, including this blog! Why would they do this? The telecommunications companies insist that Netflix, YouTube, and other major sites jam the “roads” making it difficult for them to provide access to everything as fast as consumers want it. Verizon and the others want to charge these big content providers a fee to offset maintaining the “roads” because so much of their content passes through the connections they provide. They want a toll to maintain the infrastructure.

Show of hands: Who thinks that toll money will actually be invested in maintaining infrastructure?

If these laws are overturned, what’s to stop them from charging every content provider? I imagine Netflix and Google could find the funds to pay off the telecoms. If Netflix pays the fee, they will simply turn that fee over to the consumer, which would be me. I’d see a rate hike on my Netflix subscription fees; a toll if you will. But what about my Orbital Platform? Will my hosting service for this site make the payment and thus raise the rates I pay for hosting? If so, it could price me out and I’d have to shut down my platform! These fees or “tolls” could price out start-ups or smaller content providers from competing.

This country prides itself on being a free and open society and we created the world wide web to reflect that. Net neutrality gives everyone a fair shot, a level playing field to compete. It also makes it possible for many voices to be heard. Because so many of our larger news sources are owned by so few the potential to restrict information is overwhelming especially if net neutrality is overturned. Overturning these laws could set this country further down an Orwellian future. What is to stop these telecoms from restricting access to information contradictory to their interests? Right now net neutrality stops them. Now more than ever we need to be vigilant where our freedoms are concerned. Rarely are they taken away all at once. Overturning net neutrality is a step in the wrong direction and we’ve taken too many steps the wrong way already.

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Changing Hearts, Changing Minds

When was the last time you changed your mind about something? I’m not talking about something to wear or about something to eat; I’m talking about a conviction or a strong belief you once held that changed over time. As a child I used to believe in the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, and Freddy Krueger. I don’t believe in those things anymore (mostly). What caused me to change my mind? Empirical evidence! I was pretending to sleep one early morning after I lost a tooth and I felt a hand reach under my pillow. A quick glance and I saw my mother instead of the Tooth Fairy. I saw my parents load stockings after church one Christmas Eve, so there went Santa. The jury is still out on Freddy Krueger.

When it comes to things like politics, religion, and social issues when was the last time you had your mind changed? Do you admit to having an open mind? A lot of people seem to think they’re pretty open unless you talk to them about politics, religion, or social issues.

I consider myself fairly open minded. I’ve changed my beliefs over time on issues such as capital punishment and premarital sex. I can’t say that on those two topics it was any particular argument that won me over to the other side. Life experience and a greater understanding of the world changed my perspective on those issues. But that’s not to say they couldn’t change again with the right arguments and evidence.

I really want to know what it takes to change hearts and minds in this country. There’s no question we’re living in very hostile times at least ideologically speaking. Household conversations have to be censored to avoid arguments between family members with opposing political views. Where once we could discuss our difference of opinion openly, it’s now considered inappropriate to talk about things that might be controversial. God forbid we should offend someone with a mere difference of opinion.

I’m fairly rational even in situations where emotions can take over. My head and my heart talk to each other but most of the time my head does the decision making. For that reason, facts and well supported arguments work well in changing my position on an issue. Yelling at me, insulting my intelligence, or removing me as a Facebook friend do nothing to change my opinion, many have tired. I suspect those methods don’t work on anyone yet I continue to see them employed.

I genuinely believe I am an open minded individual and I encourage those with differing views and opinions to speak up and challenge my beliefs. However I am beginning to feel like I am a minority in this way of thinking. Lately I’ve found that many people prefer to only associate with those who share similar convictions and thus avoid conflict. I can certainly understand that position. There’s a great deal of comfort in surrounding yourself with what is familiar. But I’ve learned that when you stick with what’s comfortable, you don’t grow and you don’t learn. If you aren’t doing either of those things, then what is the point of existence?

Issues like same-sex marriage, the second amendment, and abortion are very emotional issues where the convictions of both sides run deep. Not all of the issues we face have right answers moving forward. In the end we have to find a balance we can all live with but how do we do that if we can’t or aren’t willing to talk to each other?

This country is not perfect and it never has been. Yet I’ve always felt we have been moving in a positive direction. Sure we’ve stumbled a few times but we always got up and moved forward. I can’t say that now and I’m deeply concerned this country is beginning to reverse course. Now more than ever we have to seek to understand why people hold the convictions they do. If a conviction is held based on false information, that information must be set right. If a belief on a social issue is held because of a religious interpretation, we must shore up the separation of church and state. We must engage our family, friends, and neighbors even though it’s uncomfortable. We have to find a way to keep moving forward.

So I ask you, you many few who read my platform posts: How do we change the hearts and minds of our fellow Americans so that each of us has a fair shot at life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

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Seattle Museum of Flight

Back in 2012 I began searching popular wedding venues in Seattle for my upcoming nuptials. I stumbled across the Seattle Museum of Flight and I knew that was the place for us to say “I do”. Before then I had no idea Seattle had such a museum.

Yesterday my husband and I returned to the museum. We try to go at least once a year and see what’s new. Last year we spent quite a bit of time in the J. Elroy McCaw Personal Courage Wing of the museum. This exhibit features aircraft from both WWI and WWII. I really enjoyed our visit last year and learned a lot about how aviation changed warfare. This year was almost a struggle however.

As I walked though the vast quiet cavern that held war machines of the past, I felt unsettled. So many people died in the two  wars that should have ended all wars. There’s no question the Axis Powers needed to be stopped. There’s no question Hitler was responsible for acts of evil on a scale most of the world had never seen. My grandparents generation had reason to fight, to rally together, to die for a just cause . What the United States was able to accomplish in military buildup between the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the end of WWII is staggering to say the least. Every single American did their part to support the war effort and because of that, victory was all but certain.

Today we live in a world that is technically at peace on a scale never seen in human history. But I don’t feel the peace my grandparents fought so hard for, not anymore. I feel a tension, a shift in direction, a reversal of course in the cause of peace and I wonder if America will once again be called to set aside their very lives in a war effort. I hope we can turn the tide, right the ship, and continue to find peaceful and diplomatic solutions to the problems facing our world. I want to believe the last great wars are behind us but I have a feeling we as a nation are coming to a crossroads. I have no faith our current leadership will make the right choices in stemming the tides of war.

We wandered over to the Apollo exhibit where I was sure my mood would be uplifted as space exploration has been a passion of mine since I was eight years old. I marveled at the Saturn V engine on display. I enjoyed seeing the standby Viking Lander on loan to the museum. I loved the lunar rover Boeing built for the later Apollo missions. Yet I couldn’t quite shake my melancholy as the accomplishments in space travel today can’t seem to compare to those of the late sixties and early seventies. We won the first leg of the Space Race and we should be leading the race to Mars. The final frontier has a way of bringing mankind together. How far could we go if we spent half as much on our imagination as we do on weapons of war?

As we continued through the rest of the museum I began to wonder what it would look like fifty years from now. Would there be a WWIII exhibit? Would there be a section dedicated to the Korean War, parts I and II? Will there be an exhibit dedicated to the first human Mars missions? I left the museum with a lot to consider and maybe that’s what places like this are supposed to leave you with.

The Seattle Museum of Flight has a lot to see and I would encourage anyone local to plan a visit in spite of my somber mood! They have an airpark where you can walk through an older Air Force One, a Concorde, and a 787 Dreamliner. It’s kid friendly and the gift shop has lots of cool inventory.

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What is right about bearing firearms?

The 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution reads:  A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

In 1791 the bill of rights was ratified to the constitution. At that time we had no army. In fact, the framers of the constitution felt that maintaining a standing army would be a detriment to democracy. History had shown that armies had a tendency to over through the governments they were sworn to protect. But today is not 1791 and we do maintain an army and were we to draft a new constitution, we would never allow the people such a right as the second amendment.

Guns were simple tools in 1791, a necessary tool used during the American Revolution. The common folk needed guns to fight in the militia because the government didn’t provide them. In that context, the second amendment makes sense. The people need guns to protect America because America uses militias to fight wars therefore, the government shouldn’t infringe on their right to have firearms.

But we don’t use militias to fight wars today, we have the most advanced army in the world to do that. Guns aren’t simple anymore. Like America, they’ve grown in size, scale, and lethality. Weapons of war are not meant to be wielded by civilians, they’re meant to be used in the defense of one’s country. They’re made for one thing: the killing of humans.

Now I’m not saying we should do away with the second amendment entirely. I think hand guns serve a vital purpose in personal defense. Hunting rifles also serve a useful purpose. These weapons, while they can certainly kill humans, don’t produce the level of carnage we’ve seen in places like Orlando and Las Vegas.

Because assault rifles are available to pretty much any American who wants one, our movie theaters, schools, and night clubs have turned into battlefields. I don’t believe that’s what the framers of our constitution had in mind. Hand in hand with the right to bear arms must be the responsibility that right entails. It is not unreasonable as a civilized first world nation to restrict the kinds of firearms available to the common man.

I realize that changing gun regulations isn’t enough. The people who have committed the acts of terror we are seeing in our country are broken. To fix the problem with guns we must also address the mental health issues faced by so many of our countrymen. Help needs to be made available for the broken among us and we as a people need to exercise compassion when someone needs mental help.

The purpose of our laws and our government is to act in the service of the people. We want to feel safe in our homeland and I imagine very few people in Las Vegas felt safe when the bullets started raining down on them. Thoughts and prayers aren’t enough. It’s time for real sensible change where firearms and mental health is concerned. Too many have died under the misguided principal written into our constitution. It’s time we the people demand that weapons of war remain only in the hands of those men and women in uniform, trained in their use, and who have taken an oath to defend our country.

Take a Stand, Take a Knee

Prior to my enlistment in the Navy, I had a good sense of patriotism and the significance of the National Anthem. But as I took the oath to defend the United States with my life, suddenlythat theme meant a whole lot more to me. Even now when I hear the anthem I can’t help but swell with pride in what our nation has accomplished above all others.

I will be the first to admit I was a little turned off by Colin Kaepernick sitting out the national anthem last year. He did so not at the height of his career but when it was in decline and he had little to lose. He was also a 49er and as a dedicated fan of the Seattle Seahawks, I was already bias against him. But that was the extent of it. I didn’t actually object to him sitting down, I served our country to maintain his right to do so. I didn’t agree with his form of protest but I certainly wouldn’t condemn him for it. For his own reasons, he felt compelled to act in a way that he believed was right, and let me be clear, he was RIGHT to do so (even if he was a 49er).

So what does it say about our country when so many are now choosing to sit or kneel rather than stand? Is respect for the flag more important than demanding from our country everything that flag represents? Is standing up and paying honors to a symbol more important than living by what that symbol stands for?

Don’t be angry at those who take a stand by sitting down, I may soon be among them. Listen to their protests, their concerns, are they wrong? Well, ARE THEY? Be mad they are sitting down but don’t be mad at them for doing so, be mad at the reasons why. Use that anger to take a positive action, help them stand back up, not by shaming them but by doing something about the causes that compel them to protest. We have the power to change how we treat those whose skin color doesn’t match our own and how we enforce laws. We are all Americans and we all want to be wrapped equally in that blanket of freedom.

The flag of the United States doesn’t just represent our fallen heroes, it also represents what we aspire to be: a nation of liberty and justice for all. We’ve struggled with that promise and there are those among us who feel that promise hasn’t been kept. Maybe we all need to take a knee until real change is made and every American is treated equally regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation. It is my hope that those who feel they aren’t represented in the red white and blue will one day soon be able to stand with pride when The Star-Spangled Banner is played.  It’s up to all of us to safeguard and uphold the rights and freedoms our fallen heroes fought and died to protect. Sometimes that means sitting down to take a stand.