Letter to the Editor: Stand or kneel

By: Robin Wilmer, of Folsom
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Dear Editor,

I read with interest the two guest columns concerning the current debate over standing or kneeling for the National Anthem. I do have strong views on the subject and was heartened to read the passionate, yet civil, columns.

I am a retired music teacher who taught her entire career in Sacramento City Unified, primarily middle and high school. The students I taught were diverse, ethnically and culturally. My wise principal gave us a saying, which I kept in view by my desk which said, “We teach the students we have, not the students we wish we had.” Most disappointment came not from my students, but from lack of more resources to help them succeed.

Once, while discussing food for a competition, a Hispanic girl called out to our Muslim drum major, “Don’t worry, I got your back!” because her family was making tamales for lunch and she knew he couldn’t eat pork. No pork was served in deference to his religious requirement. Respect for each other was embedded in the curriculum and reinforced daily.

At the end of our daily student announcements, the entire school recited the Pledge of Allegiance. The first day prior to the announcements, we discussed what they would do if visiting another country when its anthem was played, or what could happen to them if they were in North Korea, Iran or China if they failed to stand. I asked my students to stand during the pledge, emphasizing I was asking out of respect for this country, and reiterated that our freedoms allow them not to say the pledge.

I am proud to say that, by having a civil discourse first, all viewpoints were shared and standing without speaking was accepted as a means to show understanding of everyone’s views. My hope is that civil discourse as demonstrated by these two women can spark further and broader conversation and, hopefully, understanding of diverse views.

- Robin Wilmer, of Folsom