Kneeling Honors Idea Behind the Flag

Joe Corcoran, Staff Writer

Joe Corcoran

Just remember, he also called them “very fine people”.

Oh, wait … that’s what our president said about the neo-Nazis who committed acts of violence on protesters in Charlottesville, Va. He actually called the NFL players peacefully protesting during the Star Spangled Banner “sons of b——.”

Over the last few weekends a majority of NFL players around the league have shown support for fellow players by either kneeling, locking arms, or staying in the locker rooms during the National Anthem following President Donald Trump’s comments in a speech that anyone protesting by kneeling during the National Anthem should be fired.

The protests began with Colin Kaepernick last year protesting injustices in the country towards African-Americans, including police brutality. Several other players continued with the protests, both last season and this season, leaving fans and players alike divided on the issue.

But the answer is simple. Even if people disagree with players kneeling during the anthem, the players’ decision to do so should be respected. Every person in America has a right to protest peacefully, and the players of the NFL are simply exercising that right. They are not yelling. They are not fighting. They are only kneeling during the anthem.

Our President earlier in the week also Tweeted that his criticism of players kneeling during the anthem “has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem.”

To use your words Mr. President… “Wrong!”.

The flag of the United States symbolizes the rights of the people of the country we live in. The players are not disrespecting the flag; they are exercising the rights that the flag stands for. They are not protesting the flag itself by kneeling during the anthem; they are protesting injustices towards African-Americans, specifically police brutality.

It’s all about race.

And, calling the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville “very fine people” but then saying the players peacefully protesting are “sons of b——” who should be fired only cements the point that these protests are solely about race.

But a valid question is made concerning respect for service men and women. Is kneeling disrespectful to them?

It is important to think about the countries that these men and women have fought against. They were fighting countries that do not allow people to disagree. Countries that do not allow their people the chance to express their opinions, whatever and wherever they may be.

The brave men and women of the United States military have fought against nations that do not give their people the right to protest against injustices, or the right to peacefully express an opinion. That is the right they have defended for the American public. That is the right the players are exercising.

Jack Downing, president of Soldier On, a nonprofit organization based in Northampton that aids homeless veterans, echoed his thoughts: “The majority of our veterans here have no problem with people kneeling down for the anthem. They think there’s just as much respect in that.”

People have different feelings when it comes to the National Anthem, and that’s fine. People can stand if they want, or kneel if they want — but their decision to do either should be respected.