Kneeling for a cause?

Claudia Huggins, Managing Editor

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The American flag can be worn as clothing, held flat, drawn on, printed on disposable products and used for advertising. These are all ways that the American flag is “disrespected” every day without a second thought, according to the official Flag Code. In recent events, professional sports players across the country, primarily NFL players, are being ridiculed for silently protesting by kneeling while the national anthem is sung at the beginning of their game. However, what some may not realize, is that kneeling during the national anthem is not listed as disrespecting the flag.

As a citizen of the United States, the “freedom” to do a lot of things, such as kneel during the national anthem, is often taken for granted. If there was no right to peacefully protest or no freedom of speech, America would not be the country it is today. Every day, army veterans risk and/or give up their lives so that we, as citizens, have the right to practice these rights.

In fact, Michael Sand, a former member of The United States Army Special Forces, colloquially known as the Green Berets, recently spoke out on Facebook about the issue, siding with the players who decided to kneel.

Sand begins his statement with a story of his father, who fought in the Battle of the Bulge and also broke apart Nazi camps, his enemy being fascism. He then explains his own time in the military as a soldier during the 1970s, his enemy being communism. Lastly, he explains his own son’s position in the military, who is currently in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban and terrorism.

“Three vastly different enemies, but enemies who shared one common trait,” Sand writes. “ALL of them stifle free speech. All of them bully, degrade and terrorize those who hold opposing views and who peacefully express them,” Sand said, explaining that while all were different wars, all three contradicted the citizens of that area’s freedom in some way, shape or form. In this particular instance, by not allowing football players, athletes or citizens to kneel or silently protest during the national anthem, America is not achieving its goal of being, “the land of the free.”

“There is NOTHING more respectful of our country than living up to its ideals. There is nothing more patriotic than to say, ‘I’m concerned with injustice, and will use my position to try and address it.’,” Sand said.

So what is the solution? This is a question nobody can seem to answer at the moment, including government officials. The answer may be unknown; however, a step in the right direction is the freedom to peacefully protest. As long as Americans act as if there is no problem within the country or that problems are being caused by one ethnic group, the solution ventures farther away each day.