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November-December 2018

Bill Sherrod, Editor


The October Mailbag letter, “Kneeling During Anthem Is a Hurtful Insult,” illustrates just how out of touch so many of my fellow Americans are to what is really going on in America.

Rather than focusing on the more pressing problem of our democracy being attacked and undermined by a known enemy of the United States (Russia), the letter writer and others are being distracted with someone taking a knee to voice their concern about the mistreatment of innocent people in the black community by police.

As a veteran, married to a veteran, with two sons and a son-in-law who have also served their country, we support anyone taking a knee during the national anthem as a way to draw attention to the disparity of justice in the black community. I know many veterans/active-duty service members are disgusted when they and the flag are used as props for jingoistic purposes.

Lastly, people who believe that it is “disrespectful” to kneel during the national anthem really need to examine their hearts and moral compasses. Quietly taking a knee isn’t disrespectful, it is protected under the First Amendment.

Remember, country over party. Vote like the future of our country depends on it, because it does.

— Jenn Coolidge
Via email


October’s Mailbag letter, “Kneeling During Anthem Is a Hurtful Insult,” criticizes NFL players who kneel during the national anthem, claiming they “might think it’s cool to kneel.” I daresay they do not think it’s “cool” — they are calling attention to society’s mistreatment of blacks.

Furthermore, the letter claims these protests “might as well be spitting in our veterans’ faces.” While I appreciate as much as anyone the sacrifices that those who serve in the Armed Forces make, I don’t think the national anthem is theirs and theirs alone.

We can debate what the NFL players are protesting and whether their message and methods are valid and useful, but I’d hope that the debate can move beyond ignoring their purpose. And I’d like to hear the argument about why the anthem belongs to the military.

— Jim Thomson


Regarding the October Mailbag letter, “Kneeling During Anthem Is a Hurtful Insult,” I am truly sorry that anyone regards kneeling while the national anthem is played at a football game as a “hurtful insult” but I, and many others, see it in quite another way.

It is glorious to live in a country where people can quietly and respectfully protest an outrage and so bring it to the attention of those who may have been blind to it. The alternative is marching and shouting threats as was done just a year ago in Charlottesville.

Peaceful protesters are following the example of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Rather than denigrating those who have fought and died for this country — many of whom, of course, were also African-American — those players are celebrating them and what they fought for.

— Alice Bagwill


While I enjoy listening to our national anthem in the standing position, I could care less what other folks are doing with themselves while they listen to it — as long as it doesn’t physically impose a restriction on my ability to enjoy it.

While some folks do choose to take a knee while the anthem is being played, it is not a physical imposition on my own freedom to express my patriotism, nor is it akin to spitting in another’s face as the October Mailbag letter, “Kneeling During Anthem Is a Hurtful Insult,” asserts. Actually spitting in someone’s face (at any time) could be considered criminal assault or battery and subject to serious legal consequence. I doubt taking a knee during the playing of the anthem comes anywhere close to criminal behavior, and hope it never does!

I also take exception to the letter’s inference that the national anthem is played for the benefit (or by virtue) of our current military members and/or veterans. My understanding is that is played for the benefit of all Americans, even those who simply pay taxes that allow our military to exist in the first place.

A simple bit of advice to cure anyone of feeling hurt by watching someone take a knee during the playing of our national anthem: Don’t watch. The anthem can be enjoyed every bit as much with your eyes closed.

— William Wiehe Jr.


This is in response to the letter in the October Cooperative Living (“Kneeling During Anthem Is a Hurtful Insult”). It says such kneeling is equivalent to “spitting in our veterans’ faces.” On the contrary, I — as a veteran — know that such kneeling is one form of free speech, one of the things I defended during my service to our country.

The letter writer thinks there are a lot of people who feel the same way that she does.

I know there are a lot of veterans who feel the same way I do.

— Al McKegg


In response to the October Mailbag letter regarding NFL players kneeling during the national anthem, I would like to point out that most Christians and many other religions regard kneeling as a sign of deep respect.

These players have just as much respect for the military and our country as anyone else. They simply want to bring attention to an attitude that pervades our country that makes it less than “great,” as so many people seem to want these days.

If we would all listen to the players themselves instead of the media, we might have more insight into, and tolerance of, other people’s views and reasons for their behavior.

— B. Morris


I look forward to receiving your magazine and love the photos and features. However, I was disappointed that the October issue, where you presented a wonderful article on gingko trees, made no reference to the 300-tree grove of gingkos in Boyce, Virginia, at the State Arboretum (Blandy).

It is one of the largest groves in the country. Please go to the website at Blandy and view the wonderful grove there. If you visit in person, you can even rest on a gingko bench while viewing the foliage!

— Jane Colgan
Front Royal


I just wanted to write and thank Richard Johnstone for the September Viewpoint column, “An Ode to Solitude.”

It is particularly relevant in today’s world, especially with all the electronics and the 24/7 onslaughts of news, information, data, etc.

My favorite spot is to walk along an uncrowded, off-season beach; but since I rarely get to do that, it is most often a comfy chair in my sitting room. This is where I can thank God and just be quiet in His presence. As the Viewpoint column notes, this can deepen our spiritual lives and relieve us of the stresses we face today. I really enjoyed this piece and also kudos to Margo Oxendine. I always read Richard Johnstone’s column and hers, along with enjoying the recipes.

— Doris Jayne Acker
Stephens City