MY RIGHT HAND rests firmly over my heart, and I stand motionless and upright every time I hear our National Anthem, though often I also blink back tears as I face the flag and think about how grateful I am to be an American. I rarely sing out loud — trust me, you’d be grateful for that if you had to stand near me — but I always silently sing the words in my head.
This is how I choose to respond when I hear “The Star-Spangled Banner,” yet, unlike so many others, I’m not enraged or offended by those who opt to respond differently. After all, this is what makes our country great: our freedom. Freedom to take a stand. Freedom to make a statement. Freedom to voice opposition. Freedom to protest peacefully. Freedom to disagree with others’ points of view, acts, beliefs, religions or lifestyles. Freedom to abhor injustices occurring in our country but still love the land where you live.
This freedom so many have fought for – and continue to fight for – is why I stand at attention with my hand over my heart but also am able to appreciate my fellow Americans who don’t. At what point did disagreeing with someone evolve into a license to hate – or worse? And can’t I disagree about how someone chooses to peacefully protest (and that’s specifically what I’m talking about: peaceful protest) but respect them, too, especially when said protest elicits a national dialogue that clearly needs to continue.
These are tough times. We all know this. And no one knows that better than 95-year-old World War II veteran Edward “Duke” Roggenkamp Jr., whom we’ve featured on this cover of Extol. After nearly a century of living, Mr. Roggenkamp has a unique perspective, and during his time with the Extol team he offered a few words of advice:
Listen to both sides – or all sides, because there’s never just two – and “elect people who you know will keep the country’s freedom alive.”
If you’re of age, you have the privilege, right and responsibility of voting in the upcoming election. Cast your vote wisely, but – please – cast your vote. You can be sure he’s going to.
Lastly, said Mr. Roggenkamp, our nation must remain grounded in freedom and we must allow “people to (live) the lives they want to live.”
I appreciate this veteran’s words of wisdom and hope all of us will take them to heart.
Editor in Chief