When 98 year-old Pete DuPre, a World War II veteran, put his harmonica to his lips and played our national anthem, tears came to my eyes.
This was before the friendly game between the US women’s soccer team and Mexico, a chance for both teams to work out kinks before the Olympics open in a few weeks. Many on the US team faced the American flag as the anthem was played. Some, amazed at the resiliency of this gentleman, turned to look at him as he played; another flag was behind him. There’s something about a man his age, who has seen combat and is persevering to the end that grabs the imagination. The women on the team showed gratitude and respect for him as they each thanked him after the game, giving him a ball signed by every member of the team.
Allegiance to anything or anyone today is hard to find. Loyalty and respect are values that are dimming with age.
Watching Mr. DuPre play the anthem made me think about all he’s seen in his almost century of life. Born during the Depression, seeing the harshness of loss and want, had to have shaped him in some way. Fighting for his country in a war brought to our shores shows a heart of commitment and dedication. He’s seen changes in our country, from allegiance to revolution, from serving to entitlement, from working together to grow our country to encouraging divisiveness and experiencing a waning of what we once stood for.
What’s fascinating about this incident is the number of perspectives that have cropped up. There seems to be disagreement on what happened during the playing of the national anthem.
There are those who find the response of the players alarming. That they showed him or our flag disrespect. Many allow perceptions of what’s been seen on social media to color their perception of what they see. It’s easy to be critical if what we perceive is wrong.
Perception may be our reality, but it isn’t necessarily truth. Responses like this are often called nitpicking.
When my children were younger, there was an outbreak of lice in our school. Once it hit our family–five girls with long hair–it was an endless time of combing nits out of their hair. My son just buzzed his hair.
Hours of carefully looking, slow and incessant pulling out the tiny eggs. Repeating day after day because inevitably I’d miss some. Tedious, wearing, exhausting.
When we nitpick at issues, we do so at our own risk. We will never be satisfied with what is happening in this world–it’s a mess. But whining about every little incident we don’t agree with makes us constantly disappointed and disrupted. Persistent complaining wears on our hearts and minds.
Wouldn’t it be easier to believe the best in many situations instead of always finding fault?
Jesus reminded us to love one another and see each other as better than ourselves. To not judge others so easily and freely but to forgive.
Rather than complain about the women’s team and their response to Pete, let’s honor a man who served his country.
Our focus is wrong. Choose to see what’s good.
Way to go, Pete!