Former Drill Sergeant: “Flag is a symbol not an idol.”


“We can continue as a nation to sweep problems under the rug on which we stand – or we can take a knee.”

by Steve Link,

HAVE TO SAY THIS: If I thought the NFL protests were a slap in the face to “our soldiers, our police officers, and our veterans” as some have claimed, I’d be right there with those who object.

On Tuesday, October 9 the Press Secretary for our administrative branch of government said, “We support the national anthem, the flag, and the men and women who fought to defend it.”

Well, I was proud to serve in the military. Never in harm’s way, but served on active duty for two years. I was a Drill Sergeant. Most of my trainees went to Vietnam. They did not fight for a flag.

Our nation’s flag is supposed to denote and identify our great country. IT IS A SYMBOL, NOT AN IDOL. It symbolizes this nation of people and the systems within which we live – including the good and the bad. Certainly, no one salutes the flag to honor what’s wrong in America, but the bad is part of American life just as it is globally.

I can understand some of the confusion surrounding for whom the flag flies. Many Americans believe that the United States is the “greatest nation on earth.” That’s just not so and is, frankly, fake news. The one way in which we ARE far above all other nations is in military strength. So one might confuse the symbolism of our flag as being militaristic. But our flag is certainly not designed to represent any special segment of our citizenry. Most Americans do not serve in the military or law enforcement. Rather, the American flag it is a symbol of equality for all – among other ideals – for which we try to stand as a people. (And “equality for all” is also fake news.) 

So, I do not see the NFL players disrespecting any individuals. No, they are trying the best they can to turn our collective attention to problems in our country that are morally abhorrent. I am pleased that some of them have been passionate enough to take risks and draw upon a large audience to make a statement that needs hearing (and seeing).

We can continue as a nation to sweep problems under the rug on which we stand – or we can take a knee.

Steve Link, a former Drill Sergeant

lives in the Landen Farm Lake Community

and a recent Peace Corps Volunteer.


  1. I don’t oppose the NFL protests. I simply have no desire to watch grown men claim ‘oppression’ when they are paid millions of dollars per year to chase a leather ball around a field. I wish someone would oppress me like that! In the meantime, my Sunday afternoons will be spent doing something more productive and enjoyable than watching million-dollar crybabies. The NFL can continue to watch its ratings and attendance tank.

  2. Steve, thank you for your service and for speaking out on this issue. Hopefully, your words will truly be heard by those who oppose the NFL protests because of the supposed offense to our military (but have not themselves served!) The flag, and the rights it represents, belong to us all, not just to those who fight under it.


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