Does it matter if someone stands or kneels when the national anthem is played? Should one put their hand over their heart, raise a fist in the air, embrace those next to you? I am reminded of the last few lines of our nation’s proud song, “In the land of the free, and the home of the brave…” In a free nation and society, we are told that we have a first amendment right to free speech, and that means you can speak your mind as long as the sharing of it doesn’t cause harm or infringe on the rights of others. If our national anthem is based on that very freedom, that we came to America to be able to speak our minds, worship as we pleased, escape the controlling government of a monarch, then why would our elected leader seek to undermine that? Why attack men who chose to express their respect or lack of it, for the words based on what they SEE and FEEL within our nation?
When I was a child I learned in school to stand for the pledge, national anthem, prayer in church, and many other traditions that Americans teach their loved ones. Yet, what of those that weren’t raised doing such things automatically? What of those that see the division, hatred, sexism, religious biases, and ask themselves what is the point of saying something that no one believes or lives?
Did our nation not begin taking God out of everything, seeking to encourage embracing all for all they are, yet forget the very things that identified us as Americans? We, immigrants of many countries, came to America to find a chance to be all that we could, based on the promises of freedom. What happened that we could so easily forget that we arrived here on boats, fleeing persecution, and now we expel those that seek simply to follow in our footsteps?
One man has no right to demand that others do as he wills or our society is no longer a free one, and every man, woman, and child has the right to acknowledge the beliefs and customs of other peoples. The men and women of NFL, NBA, and other professional athletes and stars, all stand as our mentors and heroes. It honors this country to see such unity in the face of overwhelming criticism, as men and women of all races and creeds bow, yet refuse to break.
Under the oppression of dominating and overbearing leaders, a free people will always rise to claim that which was fought and died for. Sadly, those that oppress and lash out, rarely understand much less see, the sacrifice and courage it takes to do the right thing. May we all kneel, in order to stand.