Too Hot, Crowded and Not Enough Time to Stand for National Anthem

Last Friday night I attended the annual Talent Show at a local Santa Monica public elementary school. There were 27 acts with forty-seven performers with students from kindergarten to 5th grade, ages 5-10. The audience was packed with proud parents, siblings, grandparents, et al. The last time I attended such a performance was thirty years ago when my children were young. Seeing the children on stage was truly enjoyable and life-affirming, especially on a day when other students were murdered at a school in Texas. I was moved by the power and courage of these young performers to step on the stage individually or in groups as many as four. The volunteers and staff who put on the Talent Show did an incredible job and are to be commended.

There was one aspect of the performance, however, I found surprising and disappointing. The very first act was a young girl by herself on stage singing the National Anthem. To my dismay, I was the only person who stood while the young girl performed. After the final performance, I asked the Master of Ceremonies how come no one stood for the National Anthem. I was told because the show was running late, it was hot in the packed auditorium and would have been too disruptive and taken too much time. This public elementary school is located in the highest income area in Santa Monica where the median home is valued at more than $3.5 million. If the parents in such a neighborhood school are unmoved by sitting for our National Anthem, what does that say about our community? When, where do we teach our children values? How do we not just teach but practice the values we hold important?

Much has been made of professional athletes currently expressing their First Amendment rights during the playing of our National Anthem. To think that such behavior does not impact the rest of society is naive. What’s the “Big Deal”? It was just a talent show for youngsters on a hot night in a crowded auditorium. Ask that of the military who served or families who lost members in America’s wars over the last seventy-seven years.

If we don’t have the time or it’s too hot and crowded to show the proper respect to the playing of our National Anthem, then don’t perform it.

May God continue to Bless the UNITED States of America.

John Medlin is a Santa Monica resident

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