Saturday, September 17, 2016

Anthem

With so much talk lately revolving around various American athletes refusing to stand during the American National Anthem, I thought I'd get on here to talk about that topic.

What is an anthem, really? And why the heck is this whole thing so polarizing?

I've seen dozens of Facebook posts about it - some with memes, some without. Some were lengthy missives about the value of patriotism, loyalty, and respect. Many have been laced with offended and - some might say - righteous anger. Others were equally lengthy, but were more focused on the First Amendment right to freedom of speech, including the right to protest and speak out against the issues we as Americans disagree with.

The thing is, both points are right. We do have a right as Americans to speak out against the issues we disagree with. Our military has always been in place specifically to fight for and protect our freedoms, which include the right to express our opinions and views without fear of repercussion. But we also stand under the obligation to protect and respect the country that allows us those rights, and I personally feel that there are better ways to protest and exact change than to refuse respect for those who fight and die for this country.

But then ...

Protesting by not standing during the National Anthem isn't the same as outright disrespect or disregard for our veterans and our country, is it? I don't know the political/patriotic views of the athletes currently in protest, and I won't pretend to - even while I openly disagree with their methods.

Still, I do disagree with their methods because for me, it matters. For me, it's so much more than "just a song." The National Anthem isn't just a song for me. It's not just pretty words strung together. A song, any song, is a certain magic; this song in particular is a celebration of the power of this country and the people who built it. It is, like the flag, a symbol of the gratitude and respect we owe to those who came before us, to those who stand between us and the dangers of the world outside our country. It's a symbol of the blood spilled and the lives willingly sacrificed so that American women could vote and American people could hope to learn to look past racial and cultural difference. And no, I know we aren't there yet. But the blood this country is built on deserves that moment of respect, and the servicemen and women who stand for the continuation of that progress deserve to be honored. It means so much more than words and music and a powerful voice. It's a simple matter of acknowledging the truth in the fact that we are "the land of the free" because "of the brave." It's so much more than just a song.

At least, it is to me.

But you know what? I think there are a lot of people who don't really get that, who don't understand the magical power woven into a song like that - and for me, it's not even just that song. Music means so much to me - over the years it has become almost like a drug. I have to have it.

My first bluetooth wasn't so that I could talk hands-free on the phone. I didn't get it so that I could wash dishes while talking, or drive, or whatever. I wanted it so that I could carry music with me at all times. I wake up with it, I go to sleep with it. I write with it, shower with it. Pray with it. I love music from most genres, ranging from country to pop, to rock, to alternative, to rap, even a little metal now and again. I like classical music, too, just to soak myself in the joy of beautiful sound, with or without vocal accompaniment.



Recently, I discovered a song that spoke life right into the very deepest parts of my soul. My personal anthem, if you will. My personal life lately has been full of revelation, full of powerful realizations that have changed me as a woman in ways I can never go back from. I've looked upon certain people in my life with sudden understanding, knowing them for what they truly are apart from the outward image they present, and I've looked with heartbroken honesty on how my own identity is and has been impacted by the people I chose to allow into my life. Some of these, I look on with patience, or even gratitude, others I look on with shame and regret.

All of it, I look on with a heavy dose of brokenness, a sense of loss for what could have been, and a sense of sadness for what I can never get back.

A few weeks ago, I was looking at an online playlist, and while most of the songs didn't speak to me in the way I had hoped they would, one did. I've listened to it every day since then, sometimes more than once, and it still hasn't lost its power over me. I can listen to it when I need encouragement, when I need someone to hold my hand on the hard days and no one is there. I can listen to it when I need to talk but I don't have words even if someone were to listen. I can listen to it when I'm feeling powerful or triumphant, and it feeds me because I am a survivor of so many things.

I use music in my books too. In Fat Chance, Cass has what I think of as a power playlist, a list of songs she kept on a CD in her car, and she used them to remind herself of her own personal power, both in general as a human, and more specifically as a woman. They were songs meant to inspire strength and confidence, meant to give encouragement and power.

They were all pulled directly from my personal power playlist, and they are all songs that have touched me deeply over the years.

But they all paled instantly when I heard this one, this song of standing up and moving on, this song of living through the pain and holding a forward momentum despite the chaos you strive to put behind you.

Like the National Anthem holds a certain power for American patriots, even if not for the athletes that sometimes take their daily freedoms for granted, my personal anthem is a song that holds power for anyone who has ever felt victimized and found the strength to go on, for anyone who ever needed someone to come alongside them and say, "Yes, I've been there. You aren't alone."

It's part of why Cass finally had to stand up to Rick before she was free to love Drew (Fat Chance). It's part of why Cameron had to change that tattoo to reclaim her body and her life before she could move on with Mac (Prescription For Love). It's part of why Harmony had to push Xander away before she could let him in (Wrestling Harmony). It's part of why Michael couldn't see what was right in front of him with Renee, and part of why he was so afraid to push forward until after he'd cleared the air with Nicolette (More Than Friends). It's part of why Allie didn't tell Jason who she was (Courageous). It's part of why Annie had to run to Bar Harbor after her divorce (Selkie). And it's every single word behind what makes Christine strong enough to stand up and become what she will become (Fighting For Freedom).

It's part of why I'm still here today, despite a childhood of abject poverty rife with domestic violence and emotional abuse. It's part of why I'm still standing despite my own experience with domestic violence. It's part of why I can still hold my head up after falling prey to narcissistic abuse. It's part of why it shattered my heart to realize that "what's wrong with me" is the symptom pattern of untreated complex PTSD. It's part of why I am determined to move forward, why I am determined to succeed, why I am so open about what I've been through.

Because I'm a different kind of warrior - but I am one nonetheless, and I hold that title with pride.


42 comments:

  1. It's so great you found your 'Anthem' song! I've found mine changes as I go through my life. Guess I'm weird...ok...I KNOW I'm weird!!! lol

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    1. Nah, that's not weird at all! I have different songs for different moods, different periods in my life, even some specific people. It's just that this particular song seems to encompass the whole of what I've been through in my life, and how proud I am to have come through it.

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  2. I am married to a vet who has actually been deployed, so it ENRAGES me when someone doesn't stand for the National Anthem. I think it's the MOST disrespectful thing an American can do.

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  3. I love that song! I need to think about what my personal anthem is!

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  4. Mine changes depending on the time in my life but I use them to survive!

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    1. Mine tends to change too, but I feel like this one really reflects the story of my life as well as where I am in life right now. I always love when I find a really perfect song.

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  5. I agree with you! Loved so much the way you described what the national anthem means for you!

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  6. I don't have a personal anthem, but the National Anthem moves me nearly to tears when I hear it. So many have sacrificed for our freedoms, and I am forever grateful for them and their families.

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  7. I'll never understand why people won't stand for a national anthem. We are lucky to live in countries where we are safe and protected. This seems like the most basic form of respect. As for the anthem for your life. I, too, have songs that resonate with me. There is so much power in music.

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  8. I love so many songs that it would be hard to pick just one anthem for me. I will always stand for the National Anthem because of the great respect I have for my country.

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    1. I always stand too - I can't understand how anyone could choose NOT to. Choosing an anthem was pretty easy for me though; mainly because I didn't choose it. It just came on the radio, tore my heart out. IT chose ME.

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  9. I could never just pick on song that stands as an anthem for me. I have far too many that have real deep meanings so picking one isnt easy.

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    1. I'm like that too - I have a song for nearly every mood, circumstance, feeling, and person that means anything to me. But this one really sums up so much for me.

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  10. I wrote about a blog post about this before as well. The anthem is so much more than a song for me too. With my husband in the military, it means so much to us, and it does irk me when people won't stand for it.

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    1. I can't say I blame you. With all that that song stands for, and all that your family probably sacrifices for the sake of this nation and our people ... it just amazes me that anyone could be that disrespectful and being okay with themselves.

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  11. I liked your take on this. As someone with deep ties to the military, not standing is not something I would do. My father went to Vietnam, my husband was National Guard...but, i respect the rights of those who choose not to stand, because it is their right.

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    1. That's my stance - to some degree. I truly feel that if people don't respect this country and the symbols of our land, they don't belong here. If they hate America and what this country means or what we stand for, well then, no one is forcing them to stay - thanks to the freedom our military fights for, they have the right to find somewhere else to live and emigrate there.

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  12. I thought this was such an interesting post, I love reading things like look into different debates like this and give a person's view on it, I'll have to get thinking about what my personal anthem is!

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  13. Regardless of where you live, we were all raised to show respect for our national anthem the moment it plays. I think it has nothing to do with the issues that your country is currently facing right now and that people should show respect to it. It doesn't symbolize the corrupt or crazy government, it symbolizes the country as a whole.

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  14. I am a firm believer of fighting for your rights. But this practice is not something that I would approve of. It's a song of your country and it should be shown some respect.

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    1. That's my stance too. I'm okay with people disagreeing with the status quo (even if I happen to agree with it), but being deliberately disrespectful isn't going to change things.

      Actually the athlete that inspired all the fuss (and thus, this post) is currently unemployed - and whether it's because he's no good anymore or because the NFL teams recognize him as the business risk he's become, I'm glad. He shouldn't be getting rich off a country full of people he despises.

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  15. A strict observance of standing and paying respect to the National Anthem is something that defines a persons character. If people cant respect the anthem, how much more for others?

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    1. Exactly my point. I found it infuriating that this one guy led a "protest" that spread like wildfire through the entire country. Even high school athletes were refusing to stand, following this guy's example. It's disgusting.

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  16. You have every right to hold your head up high for all that you have been through. PTSD is such a crazy issue and it cuts deeply in the individual at the core of who they are. I am glad you are still around and still with us. You have definitely been an inspiration to me here. Anyway, I'm with you on the national anthem, but I also get the right to be able to disagree about things. I guess it's perfectly ok to disagree, but be willing to accept the consequences for that disagreement.

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    1. Thanks, David - what a sweet comment! I'm okay with disagreeing, truly, and even with protesting if you really feel that you have to take a stand against something. But I draw the line at disrespecting my nation as a whole and the symbols of what this nation stands for. At that point, I lose all respect for the people who do things like that - and their cause.

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  17. It has been such a touchy subject with very polarized effects. I don't have a personal anthem but I think I need one now!

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    1. Yeah it's definitely touchy. That's part of why I hated it and the way it was executed - it didn't draw anyone together. All it did was give everyone more reasons to point fingers and be hateful.

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  18. I agree, I wrote a post about how music helped through hard times too. Even if someone does not believe in the concept of a national anthem, surely they can see that it is nevertheless powerful x

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    1. I've seen your post, and I loved it! I totally agree with you - music is SO powerful, especially when it's as meaningful as a national anthem.

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  19. I enjoy the national anthem but have yet to find my own personalized version. Glad to hear you have your own anthem that keeps you going.

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  20. Awwwww love that you found an anthem for yourself!!!! Just love the song!!!

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  21. WOW! se manifique! what a thought provoking and fascinating post. I love how you ended it with demi lavato song vid too! the anthem is an intriguing concept

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