While perusing my Facebook timeline, I came across a heartfelt blog post about how NFL players should give their protests a rest for 9/11. The rationale behind it was that on the anniversary of such an awful, history-altering tragedy, we should all stand united as Americans. You can exercise your First Amendment rights as an American citizen, just not right now. Not during football on 9/11.
And I strongly disagree. The protests must go on. Even on the 15th anniversary of one of the darkest days in American history.
We are supposed to respect the flag, not worship it unconditionally.
Today’s protests will undoubtedly make many people angry. How can you protest the national anthem on this day? How can the memories of the towers going down and first responders rushing towards danger to save others not compel you to stand with your teammates for just a few minutes? How can you have it in your heart to disrespect the flag on this day?
But the truth is, today’s protests do not disrespect the flag. Colin Kaepernick has made it abundantly clear that he has the utmost respect for the men and women who serve this country. He also said that he loves America and wants to make it better. His beef is with the police. And not all the police, but the few who are literally getting away with the murders of people of color. As a proud American who believes in liberty and justice for all, how can he and his followers consciously stand for an anthem that celebrates this country’s triumph over slaves while people of color are still treated disproportionately worse by law enforcement?
It would be far more disrespectful for him to swallow those feelings and allow himself to be forced into saluting a flag which he believes isn’t representing what it claims to represent.
This is the United States of America. We do not have to stand for the national anthem during a football game or ever for that matter. We are supposed to respect the flag, not worship it unconditionally.
If you feel this country is not living up to its ideals, it’s not just your right, but your duty to try to change it. That’s why we have freedom of speech. Thats why we have the right to peaceably assemble. That’s why we vote.
For those who are protesting the national anthem today, it is a matter of life and death.
The rights granted to American citizens through the United States constitution do not take holidays off. They do not pause for your discomfort. They are valid 24/7, 365, and you do not get to pick and choose which ones get enforced.
September 11th, 2001 was an unbelievable tragedy. I say unbelievable because if you weren’t alive that day, I can see how it would be tough to believe how something so traumatic could possibly happen in the USA. I was in first grade at the time and I remember the fear and the sorrow that gripped my whole neighborhood. It took me years of looking back, reading stories, and watching YouTube videos of television coverage to grasp the impact of that day. Nearly 3,000 souls were lost. The twin towers, massive symbols of American prosperity, were reduced to rubble; the Pentagon was on fire. The world would never be the same.
And yet, we banded together and survived the aftermath of that nightmarish day. One of my earliest memories that fills me with star-spangled pride is President Bush’s first pitch at Yankee stadium nearly a month later at the World Series. Who knew that a single pitch could speak so loudly to an entire nation? The states of America are immensely powerful when they are united.
Today, as we were in 2001, and have been since the founding of our country, we are divided in many ways. And for those who are protesting the national anthem today, it is a matter of life and death. Maybe not for them specifically, but for their family, their friends, and loved ones. They are not taking this lightly.
It makes you wonder. Is allowing yourself to be bullied into being told what to say, how to say, and when to say it the American way? Is that what we are really striving for?
Several NFL players will take a knee during the national anthem today. Many more will stand. The Seattle Seahawks will link arms as a team. And a few may even choose to sit it out. This is not a slight to the troops; it’s not showing hatred for the flag. It’s doing what many people around the world wish they could wake up and do every day. It’s being American.