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Anthem Protests Aren't Disrespectful

Why I Support NFL Players' Anthem Protests

By Adam StefanikPublished 6 years ago 3 min read

Anthem protests have become a very divisive topic this year. They have attracted a lot of discussion and sometimes heated debate. I find myself firmly on the side of the players.

I didn't always feel this way. I'm a veteran of Afghanistan, so treating the flag with dignity and respect is very important to me. This isn't something I take lightly, and I also understand the argument that it is disrespectful to those who've died serving this country. However, that argument betrays something everyone who served holds more sacred than the flag itself. That would be the oath we swear when enlisting and re-enlisting. In it, we swear to uphold and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. That means the entire Constitution, including the right to free speech.

When this issue became a major topic last year, I was upset at first. I thought Colin Kaepernick was being disrespectful. As a veteran, I felt he was just another spoiled athlete or celebrity throwing a tantrum. But the more I thought about it and read about his reasons, I began to realize I was looking at it all wrong. It opened my eyes. He was starting a conversation that is very difficult and one that nobody really wants to talk about. Hiding from it won't make the problems go away. Racism and police brutality still exist no matter how much we wish it didn't. When we can't have that conversation because you don't like how someone is protesting, that only serves to exacerbate the problem.

As I said earlier, to say you support and defend the Constitution means all of it, not just the parts you agree with. We don't get to pick and choose what rights people have or are given. You can't say the document is sacred, but then tell another human being they can't express their rights because you don't agree or you just don't like the way they go about doing so.

Also, when you're sitting at home and the anthem comes on, do you stand up and salute the flag? No? Didn't think so. If, like most people, you don't salute the flag at home but complain about athletes not doing it before a game, you would be wrong. You don't get to complain. There is no law that says you must stand and salute during the anthem. Most of us also have no idea how to properly treat the flag anyway. We should all read the U.S. Flag Code.

Obviously, I'm not trying to force my views upon you. I am trying to give you my perspective and share my thoughts on a difficult topic. The controversy won't go away until we stop assuming patriotism means you must salute the flag and anthem. A patriot is someone who loves their country regardless of any flaws and who is committed to helping fix those problems. We're long overdue to have this discussion, and we need to start now.

Stop hiding behind the flag, the anthem and the troops. Start listening, no matter how uncomfortable you are.


About the Creator

Adam Stefanik

Army veteran, served in Afghanistan. Born and raised in the Philadelphia area. Philly sports fan, enjoy music, soccer, reading and spending time with my wife and our dog Sweetheart.

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