Recently, I lost my last parent. One keepsake was an American flag displayed in a triangular case. The flag had been placed on my father's coffin at his funeral. My father was a World War II vet serving in Patton's Third Army. How proud my father would have been. He taught me that the flag represented what could be, not what was. He explained that our country was not perfect. He said it was our responsibility as citizens to enact change to combat injustice. The flag symbolized hope, unity, change and liberation. The ideals that we as a unified nation strive to accomplish as we enact necessary change for the betterment of the citizenry. The flag was an inspiration when the struggles of change became great; a symbol constantly helping to focus on our goals.

Looking at this flag, the NFL protests came to mind. It is misguided to hold a symbol responsible for the injustice that is being felt. Especially when that symbol represents the hope, unity, change and liberation that is being sought. By disrespecting a symbol that many hold dear, it is counterproductive in establishing unity that will create change and liberation. We as citizens can enact change through voting, peaceful and lawful protest, and reaching outside our communities to vocalize our points of view. Though it is their First Amendment right, disrespecting the flag and national anthem is divisive and counterproductive. Only as a unified citizenry can we make what can be a reality. - Scott McCormick, Sioux City

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