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Zachariah: Kneeling for the National Anthem disrespects military

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board.

This column is part of a head to head on the topic of protest during the national anthem. The opposing column, “Kneeling during the National Anthem is not disrespectful,” reflects the other columnist’s stance on #TakeAKnee. 

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Kneeling for the National Anthem is disrespectful to servicemen and women. When Colin Kaepernick initially sat during the National Anthem, it was in silent protest against police brutality. There are deep rooted issues in this country that need to be protested. There is a respectful way to bring about attention and change, kneeling during the National Anthem is not one of them.

Kneeling as a protest is fine, but it is unacceptable for players to kneel during the National Anthem. This is not the time for protests. This time is dedicated to the men and women who have put their lives on the line to protect our flag, our nation, and our people. This is a time to remember them and be appreciative of the sacrifices they have made on our behalf. 

Kaepernick was quoted in an article by ESPN news services saying, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

Patriotism and pride in ones’ country is what America was built on. When NFL players kneel, they undervalue and disrespect the men and women of the United States who have fought to keep it the land of the free.

Deb Colbert, the Director of Professional Development at TILT, shared her opinion. Her son-in-law just finished his time serving in the Army, so this issue is very close to her heart.

“They are getting boatloads of money to play a game, while men and women are risking their lives every day for our freedom. So, it does feel a little, disrespectful is a very good word for it.” said Colbert. “We should be honoring them at everything. I believe in the First Amendment, but I don’t believe this is a way to show it.

Some feel that kneeling is respectful because Green Beret Nate Boyer told Kaepernick to do it. However, initially Boyer was angry and hurt about the kneeling. So, he decided to take a step back and listen in an attempt to understand why Kaepernick felt he had to make a statement in the first place.

Kaepernick and other NFL players who choose to take part in the protest do not give the same consideration to servicemen and women. Of course they are going to support the right to protest because that’s what they fought for. However, the way people choose to protest is not always considerate of the sacrifices that veterans and their families make.

Junior Jake Staiano explained it best by linking these protests to the role military plays in fighting for our freedoms.

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“I truly believe that kneeling is disrespectful to the military. The National Anthem is not the issue,” Staiano said. “The National Anthem is to remind people who we are as a country and why we are free. That directly ties to those who are able to give us that freedom.”

As a first-generation born American, my family and I are proud to be a part this country. We have seen firsthand the opportunities that this country offers, and we have also seen the sacrifices that have been made to protect them. I family and friends that currently serve overseas. They fight for all of us, not just the people they agree with. Therefore, it is the least we can do to stand during the National Anthem to respect their service and acknowledge their sacrifices.

Those who do not stand during the National Anthem need to recognize that their right to free speech and their right to protest are enforced and protected by military men and women. Without these soldiers, our voices would be silenced. Respecting the contribution they make to our many freedoms should not be an option. 

This is the land of the free because of the brave.

Tianna Zachariah can be reached at letters@collegian.com or online at @TZachariah20

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