Should We Stand for the National Anthem?

In light of recent comments from President Trump regarding National Football League (NFL) players kneeling during the national anthem, owners, coaches and players alike have come out to voice their opinion on the subject. Von Miller, a linebacker for the Denver Broncos expressed that Trump’s speech was “an assault on freedom of speech”. Mike Tomlin, coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, also spoke on the issue saying, “we will not be divided by this. We have men in there that come from different socio-economic backgrounds, races, creeds, ethnicities and religions”. All of Mike Tomlin’s players, except for one offensive linemen who had previously served in the Army, stayed in the locker room for the national anthem. Similarly, the Seattle Seahawks also did not take the field during the singing of the national anthem, while other teams around the league either kneeled or locked arms with teammates during its singing.

Trump has come under fire for his inflammatory criticism that those who kneel during the national anthem are “sons of bitches” and should be fired. Twenty-nine of the NFL’s thirty-two teams made a statement condemning Trump’s judgements about the players, most notably Colin Kaepernick, who first initiated the kneeling back in August 2016.

Several questions are raised in this situation: are Trump’s comments an attack on freedom of speech? Is it truly fair to kneel during the national anthem? Who is right here, Trump or the hundreds of kneeling players?  While the answers are clearly subjective, there are benefits to answering these questions in order to create a peaceful conversation and mutual understanding about a controversial issue that currently weighs heavy on the minds of the public.

I personally do not agree with the President’s comments nor the manner in which he expressed them. However, in light of the inequality that minorities, women, and people of different races, religions and creeds face every single day, I believe these NFL players are valid in their argument on inequality; however, I personally still do not believe that any cause is reason enough not to stand for the National Anthem.

To the displeasure of many, all of Trump’s opinions are protected under the First Amendment and therefore he has the right to express his them. Yes, I believe his comments were disgraceful and are quite worthy of backlash from all people around the country, but I do not believe he was assaulting the right to free speech. Rather, I believe he was expressing his distaste for people who he thinks do not respect the anthem or the American flag. Whether or not this is a more desirable explanation is subjective; however, regardless of his reason, his rhetoric should not be tolerated in any way.

I personally do not agree with the President’s comments nor the manner in which he expressed them. However, in light of the inequality that minorities, women, and people of different races, religions and creeds face every single day, I believe these NFL players are valid in their argument on inequality; however, I personally still do not believe that any cause is reason enough not to stand for the National Anthem.  Many men and women work tirelessly to keep this beautiful nation safe, some of which make the ultimate sacrifice so that we may continue to express our First Amendment rights.

There are brave men and women of the United States that give their lives for this country; they give everything. Oftentimes, those about to be deployed will write something called a “death letter”: something that soldiers fold up and pack with their belongings in case they are killed in combat. It’s a letter to the family that they might never see again, to the distraught mothers and fathers that may never see their child again. It’s a letter to widowed wives, to children who aren’t old enough to understand why dad isn’t coming back home, to children not even born yet. It’s an “in case I don’t come back” letter that a soldier hopes will never be read.

I agree there is inequality and oppression in this country, and that is exactly why I stand for the national anthem; I know we are the best country on this Earth, and we will be able to quell this tension and correct the inequality and end the discrimination that we face, standing as one nation.

Unfortunately, many times this is not the case. That letter that was supposed to have gone unread will end up being covered in tears, smearing the handwriting. It’s easy to disregard these brave men and women when we live in a first-world country, when we have food to eat and family around us to share in good memories. It’s easy to forget that many times the brave men and women of our military may go without food or water for days, might endure weeks of freezing cold weather, blazing heat, or torture from the enemy as a prisoner of war.

Our American flag symbolizes all the learning we have achieved, all the progress we have made, and our desire to continue to become a more equal society for all. The playing of the national anthem, hands over our hearts, should be a time of consensus, of unification, to acknowledge that there are issues that we all need to deal with in our country, together. I agree there is inequality and oppression in this country, and that is exactly why I stand for the national anthem; I know we are the best country on this Earth, and we will be able to quell this tension and correct the inequality and end the discrimination that we face, standing as one nation.

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About Jonathan Farran

Jonathan is a sophomore staff writer for the Review, pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Studies with a concentration in business consulting. He determined to become a successful business consultant, and eventually become heavily involved with politics with hopes of becoming a cabinet member for a future President of the United States. When he is not writing articles, you will probably find him scoring hundreds of goals playing Intramural Soccer at Mitchell Field or The Coliseum.