Is the United States a country free from social injustice, intolerance and criminal acts?
Of course not, from the very beginning of our country we have failed to live up to our own Declaration of Independence. Yet at the core of our country are these words.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."
Men and women (military and civilian) have sacrificed and died to make this country what it could be and should be. It took about 90 years from 1776 before the scourge of slavery was destroyed at the cost of thousands of lives. Another 100 years would pass before the civil liberties for all citizens would be recognized. That struggle is still ongoing. Yet during all those years men and women fought, sacrificed and died for the ideal of a fair and free country. To disrespect our flag is to disrespect their service, commitment and sacrifice.
You need look no further than African Americans of the 15th Reg. USCT or the 45th Mass during the Civil War. During WWII the Tuskegee Airmen, 92nd and 93rd Infantry Divisions when the belief that black troops could not be counted on in battle or Japanese Americans serving with the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Infantry Regiment to prove they were Americans. Native Americans that served in the Pacific as "code talkers." These are just a few examples of people fighting for America when America was less than respectful to these citizens. The list goes on through wars and civil strife and the common bond is the price that has been paid in blood and life.
Protests are a part of our country and I hope they will always be there to point out the wrongs in our country, bring them to light and bring about change. Maybe one day we will live up to the ideal of a United States.
But I will never disrespect our flag, anthem, or all that served and sacrificed to make our nation free and shame on those that don't understand that.
Kenneth Van Landeghem
U.S. Army veteran