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A message for July 4 from Rep. Megan Godfrey: America can be better and it will take more than mandated playing of the National Anthem

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REP. MEGAN GODFREY: In photo that accompanied her Facebook commentary for July 4.

The Republicans gerrymandered Springdale to make it difficult for Democratic Rep. Megan Godfrey to be re-elected and so she did not seek another term this year. What a loss.

She’s said more diplomatically what many of us are thinking and feeling today in a commentary on Facebook:

I’ve always had a complicated relationship with patriotism. Ever since I was a teenager, the entanglement of Christianity and nationalism has made me feel uneasy, and I can’t hear the phrase “God bless America” without also remembering what Jesus actually said about what it means to be blessed. There are many in this country, and certainly many in the Arkansas legislature, who demand blind allegiance, unqualified fealty, unflinching reverence for our country and believe that any hint of acknowledgement that the United States of America is not the best, greatest, freest, most exceptional nation in all of time and space is traitorous and must be quelled. But I disagree. To me, true patriotism is loving America enough to not be afraid to make her better.

Thanks to a bill last session, Arkansas schools are required to pipe the national anthem through the PA system every week because, it was argued, *kids these days* just don’t understand sacrifice, freedom, and life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Somehow, a mandatory listening to the national anthem, with no accompanying curriculum or discussion or explanation, was supposed to promote patriotism. I was the only person in the entire legislature to vote against it, and the attacks came immediately, both in my inbox and on the floor of the House of Representatives. My recommendation, both in committee and on the floor, was to integrate curriculum about the national anthem into music or social studies standards so that students could have a more robust understanding of patriotism and our songs and symbols that represent America. It was not received well. I was told that I was unfit to be a representative and that if I do not love this country I should leave. But I *do* love this country. That’s why I fight so hard to make her better, safer, and fairer for everyone.

That’s why I’ve dedicated my life’s work to expanding opportunity and opening up the American dream to more of us. That’s why my heart breaks when time after time we are confronted with the reality that we have not yet achieved liberty and justice for all. And that’s why I voted against the Star Spangled Banner Act, because patriotism should never come from coercion but rather from an authentic and lifelong commitment to learning American stories, emulating American heroes, acknowledging American shortcomings, and joining others in the uniquely American fight for a more perfect union.

I’ve seen that many of you are feeling weary and don’t feel like celebrating as much as usual this year. That’s okay. It’s okay to feel angry and disappointed and exhausted. That’s part of your patriotism. That’s part of loving America and wanting more for her and her people. If you don’t feel like oohing and ahhing at fireworks or singing Proud to Be An American this year, I won’t make you. Rest, reflect, recharge, and know that your country and all she needs from you will be here for you when you’re ready.

Thank goodness we live in a country where it is acceptable to kneel on a football field — if you are a white football coach praying to a Republican approved religion

The post A message for July 4 from Rep. Megan Godfrey: America can be better and it will take more than mandated playing of the National Anthem appeared first on Arkansas Times.