It began last season as a single act of defiance: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaerpernick choosing to kneel during the national anthem before a game, a silent protest against the treatment of African-Americans in this country.
At the time, many questioned whether a football game was the proper venue for a political statement, especially during a three-minute piece of music long thought to be nothing more than a means to honor our country, what it stands for and the men and women who have and continue to serve to protect it.
Fast-forward to last Sunday, and what began as a single player’s protest a season ago has culminated into a national debate, as players (and a few owners) from around the league chose to kneel during the national anthem prior to the day’s games. Reaction, of course, was immediate, as pundits on both sides of the issue took to social media, print and the airwaves to express either support or disdain for the players’ actions. At the center of it all, our president, who rarely has a thought he doesn’t tweet, called for the National Football League to make a stand and fire players, ingratiating himself into an argument his office shouldn’t have time for.
That seems to have created a situation where some athletes are choosing to kneel to raise awareness for civil liberties, some to clap back at President Trump and others to stand by their teammates.
Either way, we’d ask that they leave the flag and the national anthem out of it. We have far too many friends and family members who have served this country and its flag with honor and distinction.
Despite the president’s inflammatory rhetoric, neither the flag nor the anthem are representations of the current administration.
Since Kaepernick began this narrative, the argument has been made repeatedly that his right to protest is exactly why our armed forces fight in the first place. That is correct, and most who served will agree.
But just because you have the right to do something doesn’t make it a good idea. Many recent events should have taught us that. And choosing the anthem and the flag as your platform of protest does nothing but disparage each icon’s historical significance.
As stated before, depending on the version, the national anthem plays for approximately three minutes. Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance? Fifteen seconds. It seems like such a small amount of time devoted to remembering why we have our freedoms to begin with.
For that reason, we will continue to recite the Pledge of Allegiance before school board and city council meetings. We will stand and remove our hats during the playing of the national anthem at local sporting events. And we will proudly display the flag, not because we feel we have to, but because we choose to. We are making a statement.
What will yours be?