Category Archives: Cultural Contemplations

Veterans Day – The Ideals of America

First… The best perspective…

Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
~ Ephesians 5:16

Today is Veterans Day. First I want to say thank you to all veterans, whether they served our nation in the distant past or are serving today. I am grateful for your commitment, dedication, and sacrifice.

I had planned to post an article about the National Football League, specifically the players who dishonor our Flag and National Anthem. However, much has already been written and stated on this topic, so this blog post will instead focus on the great symbols of our nation and the ideals for which they stand.

Just to be clear, I stand in opposition to the NFL players who ‘take a knee’ or otherwise dishonor the Flag of our nation and our National Anthem, and I believe the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell have mishandled the protests. My personal response has been to boycott the NFL since these protests started – September 11, 2016.

Long long ago – when I was a child of about ten years old, televised sporting events always included the National Anthem. My dad who served twenty-one years in the US Air Force, would instruct me and my younger brother and sister to stand at attention with our toes touching the edge of the carpet until the final note was sung. We were taught to honor and respect the Flag of our nation and the National Anthem, a tradition that I continue to make a part of my life even to this day.

I am pleased to fly the Flag at our home. I proudly stand to my feet while present during a live rendition of the National Anthem. I place my hand over my heart and recite the Pledge of Allegiance when presented an opportunity to do so. I take part in these long-standing traditions because they are right and good. I also participate because of my own ancestors and relatives who fought America’s enemies, serving as defenders of freedom over the past 240+ years:
~ Simon Loomis (American Revolution)
~ David Coe and James Satterlee (War of 1812)
~ Thomas Burnick, Andrew Phelps, William Roberts (Civil War)
~ Floyd Cutter (Spanish-American War)
~ Charles Michaels (World War I)
~ William Michaels, Edward Michaels, Frederick Michaels,
and Harry Lindsey (World War II)
~ My father Jack Michaels (post WW II Germany)
~ My dad Sherman Waters (Vietnam era)

Our nation is not perfect. Our nation has its problems. There is plenty about which we should be concerned and these problems should cause us to seek God on behalf of our nation and people. Perhaps we should be better at actively working toward solving our many problems, rather than simply complaining about them.

But the great symbols of our nation are not the problem. The great symbols of our nation should not bring division or strife. Instead, the symbols should be seen as representations of ideals. An ideal is a guiding principle. An ideal is a higher concept or a representation, toward which we strive and diligently work.  An ideal is a challenging standard, difficult to attain, but certainly worth reaching for.

Francis Scott Key – Writer of the National Anthem: 1912 by Edward Percy Moran

We honor the Flag because of historical ideals. We stand at the playing of the National Anthem because of these ideals. The grand emblems of our heritage – The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, The Flag, The National Anthem – are meant to be symbols that unify our people. They represent the ideals that have made America great. These symbols are representative of our broader culture, and while individuals might retain elements of personal tradition, there should be a blending together of our people, while allowing for differences. Our ideals include equality and liberty for all.

Our national motto is E pluribus unum, a Latin phrase that means “Out of many, one.” Like the other symbols of our nation, this is an ideal… a long-standing foundational principle that represents our best and  highest  standards.

Because we are an imperfect people, we often fall short of our ideals, but to dishonor the symbols of our nation only serves to further divide and bring disunity. In the midst of our nation’s many difficulties and challenges, it is much too easy to ‘take a knee’. There is also too much talk. Words such as ‘dialogue’ and phrases like ‘town hall meeting’ accomplish very little. Instead, action and deeds must be added to our words as we – together – work toward the fulfillment of our historic ideals.

As members of our nation’s military serve in far away outposts around the world, we as citizens should do our part to serve here in our homeland. America can be a better land as we work toward the fulfillment of our historic ideals, but each one must contribute something of meaning, by both word and deed.

If you are a veteran or in active military service, thank you! If you have lost someone close to you who gave the  last full measure, then may you be comforted and strengthened.


“Walking through time from past to now.” Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Rochester, NY

One last ideal – but one I wholeheartedly support:

I pledge allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America
and to the republic for which it stands.
One nation, under God, indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all.

God bless our veterans this day and every day – and –
may God bless the United States of America!

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© Jeffery J. Michaels / Plain English Publications 2017

(Quotations allowed with attribution to this blog)