A Question of Rights vs. Respect
The National Anthem has been front and center more than ever in recent weeks, ever since San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to sit during the playing of it before a pre-season game.
Kaepernick chose to do so as his protest over police killings of African-Americans and people of color and he has been joined by other football players who have taken a knee while the Star Spangled Banner was played.
With the regular season opening on the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks all eyes were on teams as they lined the sidelines during pre-game ceremonies around the country. Most football players stood at attention, many with hands over their hearts. However there were some who knelt or raised a fist and in the case of the Chiefs and Seahawks they locked arms in a show of unity.
As you might expect there were many who were miffed, thinking on this somber day it was not appropriate for anything but standing during the playing of the national anthem. I am not among them.
At high school football games this weekend I stood with my hand over my heart which is my right to do. If you feel strongly enough not to do so that is your right and while I might disagree I won’t deny you the ability to do so. I should also tell you that pre-game ceremonies around the NFL paid tribute to the 3,000 innocent people killed on 9/11 and every player stood. It was only during the National Anthem itself that some chose different forms of expression.
The issue by the way is spilling over to college and even high school sports as on Saturday players and coaches from Camden’s Woodrow Wilson High School football team knelt during the playing of the anthem to bring attention to social injustice and economic disparity. While the school district supports standing for the flag they also respect students exercising their First Amendment rights.
Being an American means we can disagree with one another without fear of oppression. Let’s not only accept that but embrace it.