“And a child shall lead them”

When the Philippine national anthem started everyone in the theater stood up; everyone but one foreigner in the front row. My blood began to boil.

As soon as I could I confronted him. “Why do you insult your host and sit on your fat ass while everyone is standing?” He gave me some lame excuse about arthritis. I told him he walked in the theater, the least he could do is stand in respect.

One reasonably could wonder WHY was I so angry? After all it is not my country ; not my national anthem. FIRST we are guests in this country. The Philippine people allow me to enjoy their beautiful nation. When they are in my nation, I want them to respect our customs and traditions, only reasonable that I should respect their customs and traditions while I am a guest here. Not to mention, I represent my nation and need to be a GOOD ambassador while here.  SECOND and the main reason I was so angry was “guilt”. I once was just like him.

In America, on our military posts, the national anthem is played before the start of the evening movie. I hated all that pomp and display. I would hang out in the lobby at the candy counter waiting for all that standing crap to be over.

One night, lost in thought, I walked in just as the flag was projected on the screen and everybody stood up. Ah HELL, I was trapped. I stood in the aisle waiting for the damn music to start. Crap there was no music. We all just stood there in the dark not knowing exactly what to do next.

Softly, way in the back of the dark theater, came the small voice of a child singing “Oh say can you see…..” Soon she was joined by everyone in the theater. I stood in the darkness with tears streaming down my face singing with everyone else. I finally understood what this tradition was all about. I remembered all my friends who died in the “mud and the blood”; men and women who would never be able to sing again. Patriots who died defending our nation.

Whether it is the American national anthem or the Philippine national anthem, now you will always find me standing and showing proper respect for those that gave their life in service.