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Kneeling during the National Anthem is disrespectful to our country

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Ever since Colin Kaepernick, former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, chose to kneel during the playing of the national anthem, professional athletes everywhere have decided to follow in his footsteps. The first protest took place during the second week of the 2016 NFL season, and was a way of responding to the racism and police brutality of black Americans.

In addition, players in the NFL have been recently joining in to protest comments made by President Donald Trump stating that players that do not stand during the national anthem should be fired by their team’s owners.Before their game on Sept. 24 against the Chicago Bears, the Pittsburgh Steelers showed their solidarity by staying in the tunnel during “The Star-Spangled Banner.” All players, except for Bronze Star Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva, made the decision in a team meeting the night prior, to stay out of sight while the anthem was played. The Steelers’ running backs coach James Saxon, offensive line coach Mike Munchak and offensive coordinator Todd Haley took their positions in the middle of the sideline, with the rest of their players nowhere in sight.

This course of action was inappropriate and overly dramatic. It’s one thing to kneel or sit, but to not even come out onto the field? What kind of person can think about all that our flag stands for and not even give it an ounce of respect?

On this Sunday, Pittsburgh was not the only team to show their disapproval of our nation’s leader. The players of the Seattle Seahawks and the Tennessee Titans also chose to stay off the field during the national anthem, and walked out seconds after the song was over with their arms interlocked. The crowd showed mixed emotions with an uproar of cheering and booing as their favorite players finally emerged from the tunnels. Over 100 players of the Oakland Raiders, Washington Redskins, Jacksonville Jaguars, Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins either knelt or stood and with their arms interlocked to show their support.

Americans have showed their dissent over the years in many different forms of expression. For example, there is no amendment that states that it’s illegal to desecrate a flag. Flag burning is just as disrespectful, yet people still do it. But they aren’t doing it to be disrespectful to the flag itself, they are doing it because they are upset about something completely unrelated, right? Just because you have the right to do something doesn’t mean you should do it. Taking our freedom for a grain of salt and saying that what they are protesting has nothing to do with the flag is a sad excuse.

This act of kneeling or sitting during the national anthem is nothing but disrespectful to our flag, our country and our soldiers. Every single day there are men and women all around the world that are risking their lives so that we can be a free and independent country. They fight for our Constitution. They fight for our First Amendment rights. They fight for our right to the freedom of speech. I understand that this is simply an act of free speech, and they have complete freedom to exercise that at their own will. However, I believe that not standing up, taking off your hat and putting your hand over your heart, is nothing but impertinent, and doesn’t give our country the respect it deserves.

According to the Defense Authorization Act of 2009, it is stated that proper behavior while in presence of the flag or when the National Anthem is being played is as follows:
Section 301(b)(1) of title 36, United States Code, is amended by
striking subparagraphs (A) through (C) and inserting the following new
“(A) individuals in uniform should give the
military salute at the first note of the anthem and
maintain that position until the last note;
“(B) members of the Armed Forces and veterans who
are present but not in uniform may render the military
salute in the manner provided for individuals in
uniform; and
“(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;

It’s just a flag. It’s just a song. But to a true American, those 50 stars and 13 stripes represent so much more than that. They represent the rights of you and me to be who we are, they give us the freedom to express ourselves everyday, and that is something that deserves more respect than anything.

Instantly, this act of protest became a hot topic on social media. The hashtag #TakeAKnee was created and used both in support and in dissatisfaction of the protest.

This started out as a protest against racism. Against police brutality. What is it now? A white supremacist protest? Another anti-Trump stunt? All of these players have the right to their First Amendment and so does our president.

Yes, I am a conservative. Does that automatically make me a racist? Does it automatically make me a white supremacist? Of course not, but our nation has dug ourselves into a hole where nothing is separate anymore. Politics, race, religion, even sports now, are all jumbled together, and that is not representative of the strong foundation a country should have.

Therefore,these athletes are the role models of so many young athletes, and kids around the country are beginning to follow in their footsteps and take a knee. If these football players actually want to make a difference in the social climate today, they need to take a stand, literally and figuratively. It is very obvious that these professional athletes have the focus of the public eye, and that they possess the influence necessary to make real change.

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The student news site of Whitney High School in Rocklin, Calif.
Kneeling during the National Anthem is disrespectful to our country