Sunday, September 24, 2017

About standing for a National Anthem

Shortly after arriving in Chiclayo, Peru I was walking on Balta Ave and came upon some sort of ceremony. Street ceremonies are common in Peru. There was a stage with officious looking people on it, and a military band was playing officious sounding music. There was room on the opposite sidewalk to walk past so not knowing what was happening I continued on. A policeman stopped me; pointed to the stage and the crowd of people standing and singing with their hands over their hearts and indicated that I should do the same. I complied, and when the music stopped continued on my way. I was a little miffed about that policeman ‘forcing’ me to take part in something I didn’t understand, though if I had known the music was the national anthem I would have stopped out of respect.

The Peruvian national anthem is ubiquitous. It will be heard at the opening of a new park, street, store, school and school activities, sporting events and just about anything else you can think of. And what is interesting is to watch the faces of people during the playing of the anthem. They are not just going through the motions. They are very animated and their faces reflect a fierce pride as they sing. Sure, there are some whose attention is elsewhere but they're a tiny minority. Peruvians, like citizens across the world complain about their governments. Political protests, sometimes violent are part of the culture but there is no doubt about their allegiance to their country. I admire that feeling and demonstration of pride and loyalty.

The headlines today in the United States are all about President Trump’s comments respecting the national anthem, and various people’s/group’s reaction to those comments. There are 14 National Football League games scheduled today. There will be a significant number of players and others who plan to protest the anthem by sitting or other means. The media will have a feast detailing who did what. I’ll be watching as many games as I can today, but not the pre-game ceremonies.

I wouldn’t want to see obligatory participation in respecting the national anthem. In the grand scheme of things participating or not is probably no big deal, but……..

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