Last week during a high school football game in our school district, a student knelt during the national anthem. As a result, someone made incredibly hateful, bigoted comments about him on social media. This has been on my mind and heart since I heard about it and while I know there are plenty of voices already vying for air time on this topic, I feel compelled to show my support. It is terrifying to put yourself out there in a public way when your opinion is controversial. To the boy who knelt: I applaud your courage and am going to make myself uncomfortable in an effort to follow your example.
To the person who made the comments: Congratulations. You successfully validated this boy’s actions and drew attention to the very problem he tried to highlight.
I am in awe of the guts and sacrifice it must take to serve in the military. I respect and deeply appreciate the sacrifices military members and their families make. That said, the national anthem isn’t all about service members; it’s about showing our love for our country. I am desperately grateful to call the United States of America my home, but I don’t think all is right with this country.
Kneeling is hardly the equivalent of flipping the bird. In fact, I consider it a gesture similar to removing one’s hat and saying, “with all due respect.” And folks have every right to do that. The fact is that this country is not a hospitable place for many people. THOUSANDS of hate crimes are committed every year, and that’s just what is reported (https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2015-hate-crime-statistics-released). People are verbally assaulted every day, too, perpetuating fear and anger and more crime. In a country where we recall items that cause injury to a handful of people and hear about them on the news for days, how can we continue to ignore something that hurts so many? There is absolutely a problem. And we can’t begin to address it until it is acknowledged. Kneeling is a way for people to acknowledge that they have had a different experience here. It’s not all victory and opportunity. We can debate all we want about whether they chose a proper way to bring attention to this problem, but what WOULD be the proper way? It is peaceful, visible and legal.
Those of us who feel strongly need to show our love and support. And if you feel that kneeling is unacceptably disrespectful – have a real conversation with someone who feels differently. You might not change each others minds, but respectful discussion on both sides of an issue is just one of the valuable perks of being an American. We should celebrate that freedom.
Again, to the boy I mentioned, I am so sorry you were on the receiving end of that nastiness. Please know that many people support you.