A few weeks back in this space I shared my views about those choosing not to stand for the national anthem. This week a local U.S. Marine combat veteran asked if I would print a poem he penned about that same topic.

He wishes to remain anonymous. While I usually refrain from printing anonymous submissions, I felt letting him have his say on this topic was important, especially with this being the week we observe Veterans Day. His poem:

Death always stares at a Veteran but he never hides.

He can ignore emotion when his friend falls to his right,

But his emotions will always show when he sees the Flag.

People express pride as a word; Veterans only express it as an action.

A man only sees a sunny day when he looks at the sky.

A patriot sees a sunny day as long as the flag is flying high.

Criticism lies too much with-in society.

Too often people ask, “By what means did you use to maintain our freedom?”

But the answer always is, “any means necessary.”

When a Veteran looks at the American Flag, he can see what is invisible to those protected.

When the protected see a flag waving, they only hear wind.

When a patriot sees it, he hears the bitter sweet scream of those who sacrificed.

The protected only see Red, White, and Blue. The Veteran will always see the permanent Blood Stain put there by the fallen as a mark of freedom.

The Veteran never saw service as a question, only as an answer.

The Veteran is a free man so he knows the only debt he’s ever owed is to those who protected it. And he is willing to pay it in full with his life.

There’s an old saying, “Those who have seen war, will never stop seeing it.”

The protected wake up and wonder if they got enough sleep.

A Veteran hears screams of the wounded throughout the night and wakes up only to be thankful to see an American sunrise.

Blood washes from the hands but never the mind.

In our great nation, we have the privilege to sing the National Anthem before every sporting event.

The protected, “hear” the Anthem but the Patriot “listens” to it.

The protected keep in mind that they have the freedom to watch the game after the Anthem.

The Veteran only keeps in mind of what was needed to provide that freedom.

When the game starts, the protected will give the Anthem to the past and hear silence until the first play.

But the Anthem will play on in the Veteran’s head until his death. It rings in his ears louder than any explosion the enemy could impose on him.

Pride cannot be measured by height.

So many have sacrificed their legs in a country that hated them; for a country that doesn’t know their name.

Everyone stands when the anthem is played, as a sign of respect.

But if you see the Veterans who have given their legs, their pride is larger than a giant and they ALWAYS stand the tallest.

So if the question is if there is pride in serving, the answer is yes.

We have earned a sense of pride that cannot be given and won’t be taken.

We can spend the rest of our lives on a free land that we helped preserve.

America will always be here as long as there are men and women willing to serve and sacrifice for an “idea” greater than self-existence.

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