Standing up for the flag

In the spring of 1776, Betsy Ross was asked by members of the Continental Congress to make a flag. The flag, designed by her and General Washington, was to have 13 stars and 13 stripes representing the colonies, colonies made up of many different people from many different places, with different beliefs and different backgrounds, all brought together in their desire to have the freedom to govern themselves.

Over time, the unity of the stripes has remained and stars were added as the states were defined and added. Soldiers of the Revolution fought under that flag as well as in every conflict we have encountered since then.

As a child in school, I was taught to respect the flag, to stand up for the flag, to wave it at parades, and to place my hand over my heart during the pledge. These acts make me proud to be an American. My heart swells with pride.

There are all kinds of ways for people to protest in America. They can write letters, attract media attention, stand on street corners, run for office. When you disrespect the flag, you disrespect our country.

We all agree it is not perfect, and recently our Congress has not made us proud, but protesters are free to leave and live elsewhere. Just remember, you might not have the freedoms elsewhere that you enjoy here.

God bless America and God bless our flag, a great symbol of unity, not division. Take your protests off the playing field!

ALICE FORD

Jonesborough

Noland needs courage

I believe the president of ETSU is a good man at heart who has done much for the school. However, his recent statement on the basketball-anthem controversy I would point out is notable for what it does not say.

Almost all his statement is about inclusion and diversity with nothing about just as importantly standing for our flag and anthem with respect. This I believe is a sad commentary on the times we live in.

I believe there are ways to fairly address these issues, but so far leaders haven’t had courage to do so. They only yield to leftist viewpoints out of fear of repercussions if they do right.

RICHARD WIGFIELD

Johnson City

The flag is everyone’s symbol

Coach Shay led his students to a winning season in his first year as head coach of East Tennessee State University’s basketball team, with a minimal amount of health problems in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and gave his players strong support, all achievements for which the university should be grateful. Instead, he has felt the need to resign.

Kneeling is generally used as an expression of respect, be it to God or to a monarch, not an act of disrespect. The basketball team, as it has made clear, knelt before the American flag as an appropriate place and peaceful, dignified way to demonstrate publicly as a group against recent acts of intolerance and racial inequity in this country. The flag is the national symbol of all of us, not just the military, and my husband, a Korean War combat veteran, would have been proud of the students’ actions. I think ETSU should have been proud of them, too.

ETSU takes pride in its role as a center for free speech and equity, both American values. When the students donned the university’s team uniforms, were they required to give up their rights and only express the opinions of the current state political leadership? It’s true that those leaders control the purse strings of the university; fortunately they do not control the hearts and minds of its courageous students.

I hope Coach Shay will quickly find a better job in another state and take his team with him. They have all been added to my personal list of American heroes.

SALLY GERHARDT

Johnson City