Take a Stand, Respect Our Great Nation


Katelyn Diaz, Section Editor

Many Americans have been in an uproar over the recent NFL phenomenon of kneeling during the national anthem.  This  began in the 2016 pre-season with former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick taking a knee as a form of protest. Kaepernick stated that he would “not stand up and show pride for a flag that symbolizes a country where people of color are not treated equally.” This comment along with his actions sparked what has become a very heated debate. While some believe that kneeling during the pledge is our first amendment right, others believe that it shows great disrespect to the country and the flag. While Kaepernick’s claims of inequality should not be dismissed, disrespect of our great nation and its symbols should not be tolerated.

Kneeling during the anthem should not be taken lightly; it is a  sign of great disrespect towards the national anthem, the Flag of the United States, and the many men and women who serve or have served our country. This form of protest is frowned upon by many people of color who have willingly put their life on the line to fight for what America stands for.

In a letter published by Sun Journal, veteran Robert Clark stated his opinion on the matter, “The right to kneel in protest is all the more reason to stand during the national anthem. That right was bought and paid for in blood.” Given this insight from a veteran, Americans should mull over their decision to kneel during the anthem.  

Section 301(b)(1) of title 36, United States Code, outlines the rules for saluting the US flag. In subparagraph c, the code states “(c)all other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart.” The majority of NFL players, excluding players such as Alejandro Villanueva who was a Captain in the US Army and served as a Ranger, would be included in subparagraph C. In order to properly and respectfully salute the flag during the National Anthem, they should, in fact, be standing.

As Americans, we must be proud and appreciate the freedoms afforded to us, of which our flag and anthem are symbols. Do not demand equality and draw attention to an issue by disrespecting symbols that are so  deeply rooted in our nation’s history.  By choosing this form of protest, Kaepernick has created a deeper divide and even earned resentment from a segment of society from which he should be looking for support. An example that merges our rights, the issue at hand, and respects the symbols of the United States can be seen in the actions of the Dallas Cowboys’ pre-game behavior. The Cowboys all took a knee in unity before their game against the Arizona Cardinals and then returned to their feet in order to pay respect to the flag, the National Anthem, and the men and women who fight for the freedoms of our nation. While it is important that we uphold our rights and freedoms as Americans, the singing of the National Anthem and saluting of the flag should be void of distraction and observed as intended, with full respect and standing at attention. There are a myriad of ways in which one can bring attention and debate to an issue as important and complex as this one: inequality. As a nation we should work together to solve this discourse along with many others that we face. In the words of a Veteran, Clarence Mingo, “The flag and national anthem represent the best ideas of what America should be, and should not be viewed as symbol of our national failures.”  His generation of black Americans decided to fight for what they felt America must be, rather than “disrespecting those very same ideas.” It is time we stop demanding respect through disrespect.