We are entering yet another September. Seventeen years ago, cowards hiding behind martyrdom tried to force this nation to its knees, only to find that we would press on, fighting proud and strong.
But it is a different September day I want to bring to your attention. September 13, 1814. Only days removed from the burning of the US Capitol and the President’s home, the British set their sights on Baltimore. From the harbor, they launched a devastating attack on Fort McHenry. An American attorney was being held captive on that bay by the British Navy. For 25 hours, the British reigned down on the American fort with all the firepower they had. The attorney, Francis Scott Key, later said, “It seemed as though mother earth had opened and was vomiting shot and shell in a sheet of fire and brimstone.” It seemed there was no way to survive the onslaught. Fort McHenry would surely fall. But as the dawn broke on the 14th, what Key saw would inspire him to write a poem. Through the smoke and fog, it was not the Union Jack flying atop that fort, but the flag of the United States.
She was burned, tattered and torn. But still she stood, waving proudly. Proclaiming boldly that it would take so much more to destroy her and what she stands for. From that, Key wrote the words to what would become or national anthem.
From Fort McHenry, Normandy and Iwo Jima to Ground Zero and the Pentagon on 9/11, we look and we see her. Through the smoke and the fog, often tattered and torn, we still see her, standing. She always rises from the rubble.
Throughout the years, our flag has stood for something more than just the colors or patterns or material that we see. She stands for freedom and liberty. She stands for the republic which we pledge allegiance to.
She stands on battlefields around the world, watching over the final resting places of those who courageously fought to defend her and the very way of life that she represents. Since her creation, there has not been a single battle fought that brought her down. There has been no attack that has weakened her resolve.
Yet while she stands for us, we have some who kneel for her. The perpetrators of 9/11 could not bring us to our knees, yet today we have some who willingly take a knee. And as they do, she continues to wave boldly and proudly, still representing the same way of life that she always has.
And much like she did 214 years ago, standing tall over that Baltimore harbor, she reminds us that it will take so much more than a bunch of pampered millionaires taking a knee to destroy her or the way of life that she represents.
So I say to everyone who feels the urge to kneel, go right ahead. Your kneeling does not weaken her. She will continue to stand. But while you are down there on your knees, please use the time to pray to God. Ask Him to provide you the courage it takes to stand.
Mitch McKinley is a man of faith, a patriot, a US Army veteran, a husband and father of four. He owns his own technology and security consulting firm and is a proud to be a native Texan.