Site icon S.D. Gates

The Military is not a venue for protest.

I am so annoyed, I had to come out of hiding and say something about this.

Yesterday, I was scrolling through the news and discovered a story that has my blood absolutely boiling. It is a story about a young woman, a Navy recruit, who is presently training at a Navy Base in Pensacola.  She decided she was going to completely defy military rules and traditions and sit through the National Anthem, as a way to demonstrate her feelings about no one having “her back”.  And during this whole fiasco, she brilliantly decides to film herself and go on about the men and women of the military who have lost their lives not defending the flag (which is news to me) but defending her personal right to protest. Here is CNN’s condensed version:


I spent 18 years of my life in the military and during that time, we were instructed as members of the military to stop everything we were doing, if we were outside, and stand for the National Anthem. It could heard anywhere on a military base.  If we were driving, we were expected to safely stop our cars, get out, and turn towards the direction of the flag and salute. And if you were noted NOT to be doing that, word would magically get back to your Commanding Officer, and you would be severely reprimanded. I understand from my husband, who works on a Navy base, people are no longer required to get out of their cars, but they are expected to at least pull over and stop during the playing of the National Anthem.  If a military member is walking while the anthem is playing, they must stop and salute.

Between you and me, having to stop and salute sometimes seemed a bit inconvenient, especially when everyone is dashing to the Daycare to pick up their kids, or trying to get home, but it is a tradition and a requirement, and not something that allows personal choice. It is a rule, not to be debated, not to be thought about, not to be used as a way to protest.  We did it, because that was the rule.

What this lovely individual does not realize, is when she signed her name to enlist, she signed away her rights. The military does not function well if everyone sits around and debates what the next move should be, and how it will affect them personally.  There is a Commanding Officer who gives the orders, and the lower ranking members follow those orders.  They don’t say “Oh, I don’t feel like you have my back, I am not going to do anything you say.”  If that was the case, nothing would get done and our country would be overrun with people telling us to practice a certain religion, telling us what we should and should not believe in, and what we can and cannot say (out of uniform).

She goes on to say she is standing up with some football player in protest of the National Anthem, because of the third stanza, because of racial inequity, and because of police brutality. I didn’t even know there was a third stanza to the National Anthem (it turns out there is a fourth stanza as well), so I went looking for it. I found it on – and here it is.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,

That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion

A home and a Country should leave us no more?

Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.

No refuge could save the hireling and slave

From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,

And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

I agree the lyrics in this stanza are very concerning. However, in the case of this Navy sailor – none of this is really pertinent.  She voluntarily signed up to serve in the military, and as a military member, she is not allowed to protest about anything American while on base, while in uniform.  It is a slap in the face to all of us who have served with pride, all of us who have spent time away from our families, in other countries, defending the flag, defending our right to freedom, free speech and most importantly to those people who have died for this country.

And I think the thing that annoys me the most, out of all of this, is the fact the Navy doesn’t seem to have done anything about it, or maybe they have, and they are just keeping quiet. One article said the sailor would be allowed to transfer on to her next assignment.  If the Navy doesn’t take a stand on this, it will open up the floodgates for other young military members to do whatever they want.  This will lead to dissension, a lack of cohesiveness and a whole bunch of self-interested, egocentric individuals joining the military for personal gains who will say “To hell with United States, I am in it for me, and only me.”  It will be not “what you can do for you country” but “what can your country can do for you, while you whine and complain.”

I am pretty sure none of this woman’s fellow sailors will have “have her back” after this.  I am afraid this “fifteen minutes of fame” will most likely haunt her the rest of her life.

There is civilian life.

There are other countries.

Enough said.


Photo credit:  Pinterest

Exit mobile version