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Is it Appropriate to Kneel During the National Anthem?

Two students reflect on the controversy of professional athletes kneeling during the Pledge of Allegiance.

Nov 3, 2017

Standing Up For Our Country

In case you missed it, NFL athletes have been kneeling during the National Anthem to protest racial injustices in the country. The protest started in August of 2016, when the former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick started kneeling during the national anthem.

This quickly instigated a  controversy about his reasoning for kneeling and for people believing that this act is “disrespectful.”

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”  Kaepernick said.

This all blew up once again when President Trump addressed the kneeling by the NFL, saying how great it would be if an NFL team owner told a player kneeling to “Get that son of a b**** off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired.”

The trend has spread all around the country, inspiring people to sit down during the Pledge of Allegiance. One of the biggest arguments about these recent events is whether or not this is disrespectful. Factually, it is your right to decide whether or not you want to stand for the National Anthem, but in a way you are disrespecting our troops and our country. We all have a right to kneel or sit during our anthem because of the troops that have fought in war for that right.

Many say that they will not stand for a country oppressing people of color and perpetuating inequality. Other players are now kneeling to protest President Trump’s statements.  

While the reasons they are protesting are perfectly fine, they should not be doing it during our national anthem or pledge of allegiance. I say this because there is a time and place for everything, and protesting like this is not the right time nor place. Simply kneeling during the national anthem to protest the violence and murders against innocent African Americans does not make sense because that is not what the national anthem stands for. The flag represents honor, loyalty, and the sacrifices our military made to give us true freedom.

In fact, I think it is very important to protest these issues as they are misrepresenting what our country really is and what it stands for. Now that kneeling during the national anthem has gained traction again, it has caused an outrage in the NFL and its fans.

Many diehard fans are abandoning their teams because of these protests – they’d rather not have politics brought into their sports. Politics should have never been brought into football as it is supposed to be a fun and engaging source of entertainment for people to blow off steam. This whole ordeal has even reached high school students all around the country, inspiring them to remain seated during the daily Pledge of Allegiance.

People who sit for the Pledge of Allegiance sit for the same reason as people in the NFL kneel or sit for the national anthem. Many people at school consider this taboo to do, as we have been taught to stand all of our life, so everybody stands. Since some people now are sitting, other students give them staring eyes, but teachers are also paying attention.

Math teacher Madison McLean feels strongly about this issue. McLean’s husband has been deployed two times already, separating them for a total of 14 months.

“Both me and my husband are disrespected when people don’t stand and appreciate the freedoms that they are given.” said McLean. Although McLean thinks this is disrespectful, she acknowledges that “their freedom was given to them, so they can choose to sit.”

I do not agree with the kneeling and sitting. My family has a long history of serving in the military, but fighting these protests with violence will only make us go backwards. People who are protesting against the kneeling and sitting need to realize that it is the players’ right, and in fact our military are the ones who fought for that right.

There is not one side that is right in this argument.

There is not one side that is right in this argument. Both those who are kneeling and those against kneeling are not understanding each other. People kneeling and sitting don’t realize that it’s very disrespectful to the military and our country, and people against it don’t realize that they have the right to do so. At the end of the day, both sides need to stop dividing our country, but it would all be stopped if these protesters would not continue to disrespect our troops, our flag, and the flag that represents the land of the free and the home of the brave.

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Kneel Before Angry Eyes and your Brothers Shall Prosper

Thousands of spectators surround you, all with cold angry eyes. Locked arm to arm with your brothers, you look up to the crowd through your helmet and listen to the fans that wear your team’s colors, your jersey number, boo you in disagreement and disappointment. As the flag waves it’s last wave, the band plays it’s last note, and the singer sings their last hoorah, you stand up and prepare for kickoff, trying to mute the continuous negativity.

This is what some NFL players and teams have to endure every week during the football season…

How is one supposed to exercise their 1st Amendment of “Free Speech” when anytime you take action against tradition, it is condemned? Why is it so “unlawful” to have a different way of appreciating the flag when it is stated by the supreme court that, “Freedom of Speech includes the right to engage in symbolic speech”? Now here’s the real kicker: if all these fans are so against their NFL team kneeling during the National anthem, why do they stay in the stadium? Why do they cheer when their team scores a touchdown, or intercepts the ball right after they spent a good amount of time booing them?

Many critics of this “kneeling” era say that they boo only because the NFL players and organizations are disrespecting the United States military. However, many have overlooked the fact that some of the military were, and still are, in support of players kneeling and standing up for what they believe in. In multiple social media posts and open letters, diverse branches of the U.S. military showed support for Colin Kaepernick, the first NFL player to kneel during the anthem, by using #VeteransforKaepernick as their slogan of support.

Yes, I do understand our U.S. military deserve more than just our respect as they risk their lives to grant us freedom and protection, but these NFL players, these American civilians aren’t trying to start an uprising against the U.S. military. They are simply trying to voice their opinion on the racial oppression which has no correlation to the U.S. military.

They are simply trying to voice their opinion on the racial oppression which has no correlation to the U.S. military.

Within the past few years there has been some devastating events that have caused division between Americans. The main focal point being the shooting of young black men and police soldiers. Some of the key characters of these shootings have been Trayvon Martin and Freddie Grey. Since then, professional football players have taken on the initiative to use their publicity to raise awareness. This is their message. This is why they are kneeling. This is in no way, shape, or form an act against the U.S. military.

Overall I believe that you can support the U.S. flag however you would like, whether that be standing or kneeling. The main point is that you are SUPPORTING the flag. Kneeling down during the national anthem does not mean that you are disrespecting the flag or the United States military. It simply means you are trying to raise awareness for something you believe in.

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