As the Civil War broke out across the United States, the flag took on significance to fly over the land of the free. Along with the flag, the National Anthem is played to show honor to those who have served and died for our freedom. Not only does it show respect for our troops, but it shows respect to one another and our country. Americans today tend to believe that the National Anthem allows us to stand together and be proud of where we come from. Standing during the National Anthem has been a tradition since 1891. When kneeling began, it caused a uproar because changing the tradition can be shown as disrespectful. The National Anthem should be shown respect, not disrespect from players kneeling during the Star Spangled Banner.
Why are the NFL players choosing to take a knee during the National Anthem to show what they believe in? This all began thirteen months ago when NFL player, Colin Kaepernick sat on the bench during the National Anthem: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people, and people of color...to me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street, and people getting paid leave, and getting away with murder” (Kaepernick 1). I understand Colin Kaepernick's feeling towards the inequality of black people because of the constant struggle of this issue, but we need to understand and realize that the National Anthem has a deeper meaning towards the troops and we need to show respect towards them. The Star Spangled Banner has different sentimental meaning for every American born or raised in this country.
Kneeling during the National Anthem is supposed to show a stand for black people's rights and opportunities, but in a way it can be seen as a ineffective and a counterproductive way to promote a cause. At the time of his presidency, Barack Obama expressed concern about why kneeling during the Anthem could get in the way of the true message trying to be shown: “As a general matter, when it comes to the flag the national anthem and the meaning that holds for our men and women in uniform and those who've fought for us -- that is a tough thing for them to get past to then hear what his [Kaepernick's] deeper concerns are” (Obama 1). In other words, although men and women could understand the meaning behind Kaepernick's actions they will not be able to look past the true meaning of the National Anthem, which is to respect our troops who have sacrificed for our freedom. Is kneeling during the National Anthem really helping or hurting the cause they are fighting for? There is always a better way of promoting a cause then disrespecting our flag, country, and troops.
Kneeling during the National Anthem is causing a divide between sports fans, sports teams, and the country. It has been going on for months and months and is only getting worse. Rodney Heard a Marine Veteran and long time fan of the Colts stated in a video, “I’ve loved the NFL, always have. I’ve always been a huge fan. Wish I could’ve played in the NFL if I’ve had the athletic ability. Instead, I went into the Marine Corp. I served my country. My grandfathers served our country, both of them served in WWII. There’s a lot of people that fought and died for that flag. And to disrespect it yesterday like you did, I’m done” (Heard 1). The National Anthem is supposed to bring people together, not tear us apart. If you have ever been to a sports game and watched and stood in a stadium while hearing the Star Spangled Banner, it makes us proud and feel lucky to be in a country of freedom. It’s sad to think those days are over, and that we are now divided because of this constant battle. There is a better way to protest a cause you believe in, while at the same time showing respect to others. It is devastating to think that when you spend your whole life dedicated to protecting a country you know and love, that you end up being disrespected by those you serve to protect.