Back in the early 1980s, I wrote a column about how I didn’t like our national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner,” because it spoke of “bombs bursting in air.”
In the column, I wrote that “America the Beautiful” was a more fitting song for our national anthem because it spoke of the beauty of our nation and promoted a sense of peace.
My friends, that column brought on a hail of vicious comments. While many readers agreed with me and understood what I was saying, many did not and seemed to have overlooked the paragraphs, in which I said I am a patriotic American who loves my country, and who has sung (and still do) “The Star Spangled Banner” at ceremonies throughout the county, including the Miami Herald Silver Knight awards program.
I wrote that column because I am an American and felt I had the right to speak (or write) my opinion. Seems I was wrong to some.
A few months ago, at the graduation ceremonies at Howard University, where President Barack Obama was the commencement speaker, I wrote about singing the national anthem with gusto, nearly bursting with pride. I sang proudly even though I don’t like the words of the song. What mattered then, and every time I sing it, is that while it still is not the perfect song to me for our national anthem, it is a song that for three minutes causes Americans to stand and sing it together, right hand cross our heart, as united Americans, indeed.
My column, written almost 35 years ago, came to mind recently when I read and saw the news of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (followed by some Miami Dolphins) not standing when “The Star Spangled Banner” was played before a football game.
I understand Kaepernick’s reason for his protest. And I believe he has the right to protest. I just believe that his not standing to recognize the national anthem is not the place for such protest.
I am old enough to be Kaepernick’s grandmom. I was born during an era when my dad and other male relatives faced the daily threat of a lynch mob. I have lived through decades of Jim Crow and segregation; of put-downs, name-calling and other hurts. I have had to sit in the “Colored Only” waiting rooms at bus and train stations, and remember as a child riding on a Greyhound bus during World War II, with my mom standing in the aisle in the rear of the bus, holding my baby brother in her arms, and with me sitting on a suitcase in the aisle sleeping with my head resting on her legs.
And I remember as a child of 10, traveling to Fort Worth, Texas, in the “Colored” car, and my mom’s friends packing three days worth of fried chicken and pound cake in shoe boxes, because we weren’t allowed to eat in the dining car of the train.
I have other memories of segregated schools where I never saw a new textbook, and the books we did get were those discarded from white schools.
Today, I am still amazed at how, as a black child growing up in America, our parents and teachers taught us something the text books from school could never teach us: dignity.
I don’t know how they did it, but our parents and teachers, who had already gone through the fire, so to speak, gave us reason to never give up; to respect ourselves and also the country that we live in; to hold up our heads when we were told never to look a white person in the eyes.
They told us that not everything is all right. And then, they challenged us to try and make it better. Make it better by being better; by getting an education; by loving ourselves and each other.
And so, the Dr. Martin Luther King era of peaceful protests started. Through it all — the fire hoses being turned on the protesters and the vicious attack dogs being unleashed on them — never did I see anyone not stand for the national anthem. Even during the most painful of times, we African Americans stood tall, right hand across our heart, alongside of other Americans, and pledged our allegiance to our flag and to our country. It never occurred to us not to
But these are different times. And young people like Kaepernick, whose parents being an interracial couple, probably went through some harrowing times, may not see the progress that has been made over the years. I can understand.
Still, if I were Kaepernick’s grandmom, I’d say to him:
“Stand tall, son, when the national anthem is played. Stand because we have come a long way, and while there is yet a long way to go on this journey to equality, the road gets shorter every day.”
I know it doesn’t seem like it because of the unrest in our communities — the gunning down of our children and of each other in our cities’ streets; the police brutality against black citizens and the new retaliation against law enforcement officers. It is enough to make your head spin.
I would say to Kaepernick:
“Yes, a lot of things are not right in our country right about now. But now is not the time to sit it out when the national anthem is played. Look at you — playing on a football team that, had you lived several generations ago, would not have been possible — and making it possible for you to earn more money than you ever dreamed.
“Even so, I know that all is not right in America. Yet, I have lived long enough to know that we are blessed to live in a country where we still have the freedom to protest peacefully. Now, I believe, is the time for you to stand up together with me, and your parents and all who have worked hard to make America our America, and be the American that I know you are.
“Stand up, Colin. Stand up and also make a pledge to be one who will keep on helping to bring about change for the better.”
WOMAN CELEBRATES 103RD BIRTHDAY
Speaking of living and standing through generations of hardships as an African American, kudos to Fannette Clark Lyons, who on Sept. 14, celebrated her 103rd birthday at home with her daughter Rosemary Bethel and about “40 other family members, friends, church members and choir members,” said daughter-in-law Lola Clark.
Lyons, a diehard Miami Heat fan, is a member of Mount Hermon AME Church where she sang in the choir for years until she was unable to attend church on a regular basis, Bethel said.
At the party, her family and friends made sure Lyons had all her favorite foods — mac ‘n cheese, fried chicken and fish; conch fritters, pigeon peas and rice, and several salads. “She had a wonderful day,” Clark said.
Lyons, the mother of four, has outlived two of her children: Marvin, who died more than four decades ago, and Franklin, who died in July. She is the grandmother of 16, the great-grandmother of eight, and the great-great-grandmother of four. Her two surviving children are Leonard and Rosemary, with whom she lives in the Bunche Park area of Miami Gardens.
‘HONOR YOUR THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS’
The Universal Truth Center for Better Living at 21310 NW 37th Ave. in Miami Gardens invites the community to hear the Rev. Charles Taylor’s message on the “Honor Your Thoughts and Feelings” on Sunday, Sept. 25.
Taylor, the center’s senior minister, will preach at 10 a.m. The sermon topic is week two of the church’s seven-week Adventure in Faith program, which is based on mental/emotional unfoldment. Taylor uses the book “A Complaint Free World” by Will Bowen as a teaching tool to guide the congregation on understanding the importance of being complaint free.
Week three of the church’s seven-week Wonderful Wednesday services will be from 7 to 8 p.m. Sept. 28 and will be a continuation of the Adventure in Faith program.
For more information, call the church at 305-624-4991 or go to its website, utruthcenter.org.
HIGH HOLIDAY SERVICES
Chabad of Dadeland and West Kendall, 12100 SW 92nd St., announces its 5777 (2016) High Holiday service schedule and invites the community to join for “traditional services blended with contemporary messages in a warm and welcoming atmosphere.”
Rosh Hashanah services begin 7 p.m. Oct. 2, followed by a traditional dinner by reservation only.
▪ Oct. 3: Morning services at 9:45 a.m.; children’s program 10:45 a.m.; shofar sounding 11:30 a.m., followed by a holiday buffet (kiddush) and Tashlicha
▪ Oct. 4: Morning services at 10:30 a.m., followed by kiddush and desserts.
Yom Kippur services:
▪ Oct. 11: Fast begins at 6:40 p.m., with Kol Nidre at 7 p.m.
▪ Oct. 12: Morning services at 10 a.m.; children’s program 11 a.m.
▪ Yizkor memorial services honoring loved ones will be at noon; Mincha and Neilah closing services 6:30 p.m. followed by the fast end at 7:31 p.m. and break the fast.
Throughout the prayer services there will be explanation and instruction. Hebrew-English prayer books will be provided , and the children’s program will be held while their parents are in the adult service.
While no tickets are required, a suggested donation of $54 per person will be accepted. To RSVP and for more information, call Rabbi Getzy and Chana Rubashkin at 786-501-4072, or email Rabbigetzy@gmail.com
‘GOD’S WORD: GOOD ADVICE OR GARBAGE’
The Rev. Dr. Kevin Goodrich, a traveling teacher and preacher on spirituality, ministry and living, will be the guest speaker at 5:30 p.m., following a light meal at 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25, at South Miami Lutheran Church 7190 Sunset Dr. in South Miami. His topic will be “The Bible —God’s Word: Good Advice, or Garbage?”
According to information from the church, Goodrich is known for his sense of humor and engaging preaching style. He is a professed member of the Anglican Order of Preachers (Dominicans) and has served on the pastoral staff of Lutheran and Episcopal churches.
Goodrich is the author of “Plugging into God’s Story, A Practical Introduction to Reading and Understanding the Bible.”
Everyone is welcome. To register for the meal, call 305-665-2562.
‘LET IT GO RETREAT’
You may register now to attend the “Let It Go Retreat” presented by Unity on the Bay, with speakers the Rev. Elizabeth Longo, the Rev. Chris Jackson and holistic life coach Kevin O’Brien.
The retreat will be from 6 to 9:30 p.m. on Sept. 30 and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 1. The cost is $175 per person and includes meals.
Unity on the Bay invites the community to “Come and see what is blocking you from living the life you were meant to live.”
According to information from the church, through powerful practice of deep release, attendees will have an opportunity to let go of your blocks and what is no longer serving you.
The retreat will be a day of self-care, renewal of body , mind and spirit; a day of prayer, meditation, forgiveness, yoga, and deep inner work, including the practice of Emotional Freedom Technique.
To register and for more information go top, www.unityonthebay.org or call Jason Weeks at 305-573-9191, ext. 223.
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