Remembering What The Anthem Stands For

We all have memories that stick with us. Some are happy, some are sad, and some are our proudest moments. This past week's focus on kneeling NFL players and the national anthem has brought back some of these memories for me.

In watching the games and the news coverage, I was reminded of my first anthem. I learned my first anthem during my first days of school in a land far away and much different from ours. I remember starting every day in the schoolyard standing with all of the students as we sang our national anthem before going through our morning exercises. I was proud to sing the anthem. We all were.

A year later, the singing took on a much different tone. By this time, the government had been overthrown. A new communist regime was in power. Choices were disappearing by the day. National pride was no longer a matter of choice. It was an obligation. Obligations being enforced by teachers and bosses. I remember my mother, a school teacher, being required to attend national demonstrations with other teachers-an obligatory gesture of support so the government could claim to be for the common people.

Our proud multi-colored flag was replaced with a simple red flag. Soldiers marched in our streets. And yet every morning in school started the same way. We would stand in the yard, sing our new national anthem, and go through our morning exercises. But singing the national anthem was no longer a matter of pride. It was simply another one of our national obligations.

Within a few years, I went from this obligatory singing of a forced national anthem to once again proudly saying the pledge of allegiance with my hand on my heart. My first days in school in America were a learning experience in many ways; more was new and unknown to me than near the same as my prior experiences. But our morning recitation of the pledge of allegiance was a thread of commonality that connected my new experiences with days of old.

I learned the pledge quickly, practicing it by myself at home so I wouldn't stand out from the other children. I was proud to say the pledge. I knew just how lucky I was to be pledging allegiance to America rather than singing whatever national anthem was being forced upon my classmates who stayed behind.

As a child, I didn't think about whether I should be saying the pledge of allegiance despite not being an American yet. I was a child like every other child in that classroom. They stood. I stood. They put their hands on their hearts. I put my hand on my heart. They pledged allegiance. So did I.

As I grew up, this daily pledge of allegiance was replaced with the every so often singing of the national anthem at sporting and other such events. It would always start with an announcement along the lines of: "ladies and gentlemen, please stand and remove your hats for the singing of our national anthem." I would stand. I rarely had a hat to remove. And I would sing, albeit quietly for the benefit of those around me. But a question lingered.

Before I became a citizen, I wondered what those around me might think if they knew I was not an American. Of course, I had friends and others who never treated me any differently from other Americans. But I also had my share of encounters with people who felt compelled to remind me that I was not an American-without even checking my papers.

In those moments when I would stand in a crowd of Americans with the national anthem playing, I couldn't help but feel a sense of imposter syndrome (before I knew what imposter syndrome was). In those moments I looked forward to the day when I could stand among them proudly as an American without question.

Before that day came, I had a day of celebration. Another memory that will always stay with me. My friends gathered at the courthouse to watch my naturalization ceremony. And at the end, I stood as I had as a child with my hand on my heart and pledged allegiance for the first time as an American. I was proud to say every word. The flag itself looked brighter to me that day. It was my flag now.

When I attended my next sporting event, I looked forward to the national anthem as much as the game. When it played, I stood. I sang proudly, but still quietly, without any sense of being an imposter. This was now my national anthem.

My imposter feelings were replaced with a certain sense of pride that I was among the many. I was an American citizen bestowed with now inalienable rights. I was no longer a long-term visitor. I belonged.

As the national anthem protests became front-page news this past week, I remembered this journey from the schoolyard to the seats in the arena. I once again felt a certain sense of pride. I've stood for every anthem played in my presence in my life, before and after becoming an American. Having started life without the freedoms that America guarantees and represents, I savor those freedoms and guard them jealously. And I take pride in their symbols.

But my pride this time does not arise from my standing with other Americans as the anthem plays. It comes from my appreciation for the Constitution-as an American and an immigrant. The anthem, the flag, and the pledge all derive their special place in our lives and in our hearts because of the Constitution that they represent. It is the Constitution that created the America that we know and love. It is the Constitution that has provided the foundation for America through the centuries. And it is the Constitution that makes us all Americans and gives us choice.

My appreciation for the Constitution is amplified with my memories of having lived without it. Memories of being forced to sing an anthem rather than singing it with personal and national pride. Memories of watching my mother being forced to cheer for a government she did not believe in and that did not believe in her. Memories of obeying our government out of fear rather than respecting it out of pride.

My pride this time comes from appreciating that our choice to stand is itself a symbol of the freedoms for which the anthem stands. A choice not many in the world enjoy.

A choice, not an obligation, that makes all the difference in the world.

Contributing Editor: Immigrant Doe

I'm an American who happens to be an immigrant searching of the American dream. I can be found on Twitter @Immigrant_Doe.


  • jordan 11
    Posted December 31, 2017 10:52 am 0Likes

    I and also my guys were actually examining the good things located on the blog while the sudden I had a horrible feeling I never thanked the blog owner for them. All of the young boys had been so warmed to study all of them and have now sincerely been using them. Thank you for getting quite thoughtful and for figuring out variety of superior areas millions of individuals are really eager to be aware of. My sincere apologies for not expressing gratitude to you earlier.

  • adidas superstar uk
    Posted January 1, 2018 3:27 pm 0Likes

    I simply wanted to write a quick message to express gratitude to you for all of the magnificent advice you are showing on this website. My extensive internet research has at the end of the day been recognized with useful concept to exchange with my friends and family. I ‘d say that most of us readers actually are definitely lucky to be in a fantastic community with so many marvellous people with very helpful techniques. I feel really happy to have seen your entire web page and look forward to tons of more amazing times reading here. Thanks a lot again for a lot of things.

  • yeezy shoes
    Posted January 1, 2018 11:36 pm 0Likes

    Once I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I get 4 emails with the identical comment. Is there any manner you can take away me from that service? Thanks!

  • michael kors outlet online
    Posted January 2, 2018 7:14 pm 0Likes

    I simply wanted to construct a quick message in order to say thanks to you for all of the magnificent tips and hints you are writing here. My extensive internet lookup has now been honored with beneficial know-how to write about with my family and friends. I ‘d say that most of us readers are undeniably endowed to exist in a great place with very many marvellous professionals with good tips. I feel rather grateful to have discovered your web site and look forward to really more amazing moments reading here. Thanks a lot once more for all the details.

  • longchamp bags
    Posted January 4, 2018 8:28 am 0Likes

    I want to express my admiration for your generosity in support of visitors who should have help with that matter. Your very own dedication to getting the solution around was wonderfully productive and has continuously made people just like me to attain their desired goals. Your amazing helpful help denotes a whole lot a person like me and extremely more to my office colleagues. Best wishes; from each one of us.

  • yeezy
    Posted January 4, 2018 6:11 pm 0Likes

    Hi there! I simply wish to give an enormous thumbs up for the good info you’ve gotten right here on this post. I might be coming again to your weblog for more soon.

  • adidas ultra
    Posted January 5, 2018 5:18 pm 0Likes

    I intended to put you one bit of observation in order to thank you so much again for your extraordinary tips you’ve documented at this time. This has been so pretty generous of you to make easily exactly what many people might have marketed as an electronic book to make some money for their own end, specifically now that you could possibly have tried it in the event you considered necessary. Those advice likewise served to become a great way to be certain that most people have the identical dream really like my own to know more with reference to this condition. I believe there are many more pleasant situations up front for folks who read carefully your site.

  • true religion jeans
    Posted January 7, 2018 1:15 pm 0Likes

    I together with my pals appeared to be examining the best tips located on the website while the sudden got a horrible feeling I had not thanked the blog owner for those strategies. These young boys had been certainly warmed to see them and already have quite simply been loving them. I appreciate you for actually being very accommodating and also for opting for these kinds of superior resources most people are really needing to be informed on. My very own sincere apologies for not saying thanks to you sooner.

  • longchamps
    Posted January 8, 2018 6:02 pm 0Likes

    I simply needed to thank you so much again. I am not sure what I would’ve handled in the absence of the actual recommendations shared by you regarding this industry. It was before a frightening case for me personally, however , viewing the very specialized avenue you managed the issue made me to jump for delight. Extremely grateful for your help and as well , have high hopes you really know what a powerful job that you are carrying out instructing people with the aid of your blog. I know that you haven’t met all of us.

  • yeezy boost 350
    Posted January 9, 2018 3:39 am 0Likes

    I want to express my affection for your generosity in support of people who actually need assistance with this important question. Your real dedication to getting the message all around had become amazingly important and has encouraged guys much like me to achieve their ambitions. Your own helpful help can mean a great deal to me and much more to my peers. Thank you; from each one of us.

  • nike zoom
    Posted January 10, 2018 5:52 am 0Likes

    My spouse and i have been absolutely lucky that Albert could finish up his survey through your ideas he acquired while using the web pages. It’s not at all simplistic just to possibly be freely giving secrets and techniques which often some other people might have been making money from. So we acknowledge we need you to appreciate because of that. The main explanations you’ve made, the straightforward blog menu, the friendships you help to engender – it’s got mostly unbelievable, and it’s really assisting our son and our family recognize that this topic is thrilling, which is particularly fundamental. Many thanks for everything!

  • links of london sale
    Posted January 11, 2018 4:35 pm 0Likes

    My husband and i have been very more than happy that Louis managed to carry out his homework because of the ideas he had using your web site. It is now and again perplexing just to always be releasing solutions that many many people might have been selling. Therefore we keep in mind we need the blog owner to give thanks to for that. The most important illustrations you’ve made, the straightforward site navigation, the relationships you can help to create – it’s all excellent, and it is helping our son in addition to our family believe that that subject matter is entertaining, and that’s exceedingly fundamental. Thank you for the whole lot!

  • adidas yeezy boost
    Posted January 12, 2018 1:28 am 0Likes

    I enjoy you because of all of the work on this website. Debby delights in participating in research and it’s easy to see why. A number of us notice all concerning the compelling mode you create effective tricks through the website and as well as foster participation from people on this content and our own girl is truly studying so much. Take pleasure in the remaining portion of the new year. You’re the one doing a fabulous job.

  • goyard handbags
    Posted January 12, 2018 11:17 pm 0Likes

    I am also commenting to make you know what a awesome experience my cousin’s girl developed viewing your webblog. She came to find many pieces, which include what it’s like to have a wonderful coaching mood to have many people with no trouble master certain complicated matters. You actually surpassed visitors’ expected results. Thanks for showing those effective, healthy, informative and even unique tips about the topic to Emily.

  • hermes belts
    Posted January 14, 2018 9:31 am 0Likes

    I happen to be writing to make you know of the remarkable experience our child undergone using your web page. She picked up a good number of details, including how it is like to have a great teaching character to have many others very easily grasp specified complex things. You actually surpassed readers’ expected results. I appreciate you for churning out these invaluable, dependable, revealing and also unique tips about this topic to Tanya.

  • yeezy boost 350
    Posted January 14, 2018 10:09 pm 0Likes

    I precisely wished to thank you very much yet again. I’m not certain the things I might have done in the absence of the pointers shown by you on such industry. It truly was a real daunting concern for me, but taking note of the very well-written technique you resolved it forced me to jump with joy. I’m just grateful for your assistance and as well , trust you know what a powerful job that you are undertaking training many others by way of your webblog. I know that you have never got to know any of us.

  • Adidas NMD R1 Primeknit Core Black Boost Japan Pack
    Posted January 15, 2018 5:15 am 0Likes

    Thank you so much for giving everyone an extremely memorable chance to check tips from here. It’s usually so excellent and stuffed with amusement for me personally and my office peers to visit your site not less than thrice in 7 days to study the newest guides you have. Not to mention, we’re always happy considering the astounding things you give. Certain 3 tips in this post are ultimately the most efficient we’ve ever had.

  • nike free run
    Posted January 15, 2018 10:50 pm 0Likes

    My husband and i got absolutely relieved that Ervin managed to complete his inquiry through the ideas he came across using your web pages. It is now and again perplexing to just happen to be releasing solutions that the others may have been making money from. So we already know we’ve got you to appreciate for this. The main explanations you made, the easy web site navigation, the friendships your site make it possible to create – it’s everything wonderful, and it is making our son and the family reason why this subject is interesting, which is extremely serious. Thanks for all the pieces!

  • michael kors
    Posted January 17, 2018 4:38 am 0Likes

    I intended to create you this very small remark to be able to thank you very much once again considering the marvelous advice you’ve shared in this article. It was simply particularly open-handed of people like you to supply unreservedly what exactly a lot of people could possibly have supplied as an e-book to help with making some cash for themselves, specifically considering the fact that you might have tried it in case you wanted. The tricks also served to be a easy way to fully grasp that other people have a similar dreams just like my own to learn more around this issue. I think there are lots of more pleasant opportunities in the future for folks who look over your blog.

  • yeezys
    Posted January 17, 2018 4:28 pm 0Likes

    I needed to create you this little remark to finally give thanks over again for your personal fantastic techniques you’ve discussed above. It is certainly open-handed of you in giving extensively what exactly a few individuals might have advertised for an e book to earn some bucks for themselves, most importantly considering the fact that you might have tried it if you wanted. Those good tips additionally served to become a great way to fully grasp that the rest have similar passion similar to my own to grasp whole lot more with reference to this problem. I’m certain there are a lot more pleasurable moments in the future for individuals who check out your blog.

  • yeezy
    Posted January 18, 2018 10:24 am 0Likes

    My husband and i got really happy when Ervin could conclude his studies through the entire ideas he got through your blog. It is now and again perplexing just to always be freely giving information that many some other people have been selling. We see we’ve got the blog owner to give thanks to because of that. The main explanations you’ve made, the straightforward website menu, the relationships you will give support to promote – it’s everything astounding, and it’s letting our son and us know that that topic is satisfying, and that’s tremendously mandatory. Thank you for the whole lot!

  • adidas superstar
    Posted January 19, 2018 3:11 pm 0Likes

    Needed to post you one very little observation to help give many thanks as before just for the pleasant views you have provided here. This has been certainly tremendously open-handed of people like you to give extensively all that a few individuals could possibly have distributed as an electronic book to generate some dough on their own, specifically given that you might have done it in the event you desired. Those good tips additionally worked like a good way to comprehend many people have similar fervor really like my own to understand a whole lot more around this matter. I know there are many more fun instances up front for those who take a look at your site.

  • adidas ultra boost
    Posted January 20, 2018 1:35 am 0Likes

    I enjoy you because of all of your work on this blog. My mom enjoys making time for investigations and it’s really easy to see why. A lot of people hear all relating to the compelling means you give priceless solutions on this blog and even inspire contribution from other people on this theme then my simple princess is undoubtedly understanding so much. Have fun with the rest of the year. You are always carrying out a remarkable job.

Add Comment