(Photo Above: Gabby Douglas. Source: The Huffington Post – Zondervan)
I’ve attended enough baseball games to know that as soon as the National Anthem comes on, you take off your cap, stand at attention and place your hand over your heart. It’s a sign of respect for the game and for the USA.
What I love most about this tradition is how it has the capability to unite 45,000 strangers to salute their county. And as the singer reaches the, “Home of the Brave, And the Land of the Free,” the hair on my neck stands on end as a wave of cheers and applauds begins to swell.
There’s always a few that decide its more important to eat their hot dog or down their beer to take in the moment, and although I might not like it, I’m proud that I live in country that doesn’t persecute those that choose to express their patriotism however they choose. Or do we?
In the last week, US Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas has received a barrage of abusive online comments, attacking her “lack of patriotism” because she did not place her hand over her heart during the National Anthem. Bullying comments, like trending Tweets calling her “Crabby Gabby,” isn’t new to the 20-year-old. Far worse has been said about the gymnast phenom, much of which has had a racial overtone. I won’t repeat it here, because these hateful comments don’t deserve an additional platform, but you can look it up for yourself on a recent Guardian Article.
Let’s just be clear, Gabby Douglas deserves better treatment. She’s worked her butt off and sacrificed a good chunk of her childhood, with absolutely no regrets, to become a powerhouse in World’s gymnastics. And even though she might choose to wear a pink leotard, which might upset some Fox News Pundits for not being Red, White and Blue, she’s doesn’t need to apologize for lacking pride in her country, for not smiling enough or for any other silly criticism from people who have nothing better to do than tear others down. Gestures do matter. But so does the fact that the Douglas family has deep roots serving in the US Military and that Gabby does the seemingly impossible by competing with the World’s best and bringing home Gold. To have the nerve to question the patriotism of such an immense talent as Gabby Douglas is idiotic.
As Douglas’ mother, Natalie Hawkins, was quoted by The Guardian, “I don’t think respecting your country or your flag boils down to whether you put your hand over your heart or not. It’s in your actions towards your country – how well are you abiding by its laws, how well are you helping your fellow citizens?”
So I ask all the critics out there: How are you really helping? By tearing down one of the people that creating the national pride you’re professing to respect?
You made us proud, Gabby!