Commentary

July 26, 2013

Avoiding retreat is cowardly

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Jo Rowe
81st Inpatient Operations Squadron

An Airman salutes the flag during Retreat.

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -It was one of the first beautiful days in a very long while in and around Bolling Air Force Base, District of Columbia. Rain was predicted, but I was hoping it would hold out until I completed the walk to my on-base residence.

As I was about to walk out of the Maisey Building, I noticed three enlisted members, three officers and one civilian with her newborn waiting by the exit doors; such a big pile-up for this time of day.

My heart sank. Could it be those deep blue skies and white puffy clouds turned dark gray with huge raindrops just waiting to signal the burst? Or was the rolling of the thunder and the dancing of the lightning enough to crowd everyone back into the building until the coast was clear? Nope … Neither.

To my extreme disappointment, these people were “self locked” inside, because they didn’t want to be caught outside during the playing of our national anthem.

I was very saddened.

As my husband and I approached the door, everyone parted for us to get past. As we were walking through the doors, the music stopped. Everyone piled out as if a store had just announced 75 percent off at a day-after-Christmas sale.

I said to my husband, “You know what, honey? I am really sickened when I see people who refuse to come outside and acknowledge our National Anthem. Have they forgotten that this song, along with other things, stands for our freedom? What are they afraid of? The cowards!”

Even I, a dependent spouse at that time, am familiar with the courtesies we are supposed to observe when the national anthem is being played. Even though my husband was shocked to hear me call people whom I did not know cowards, he said he understood.

I have always felt this way. If you appreciate what you have, who you are and where you come from, you should appreciate the national anthem and all it represents.

My husband tried to tell me that hiding like that was, indeed, against military courtesies, but I tuned him out as I continued to ramble on about how insensitive I felt these people were.

What on earth was keeping those folks from standing proud and saluting or placing their hand over their hearts? No excuse is acceptable.

So I looked around as everyone rushed to their cars and I thought of the men and women fighting for our freedom. I thought of how proud I am of each and every one of them and how they wouldn’t be proud of those Americans who chose to stay inside instead of coming out to salute their flag – the very item that drapes the coffins of our fallen to their final resting place.

Maybe my words here will help change for the better, the courtesies we render, or ought to render, during reveille and retreat on base.

Don’t cower from the nation anthem. Be proud. Go outside and salute the flag, or place your hand over your heart and stand tall. If not for yourself, then do it for your American brothers and sisters fighting to keep you free.




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