A freedom taken too far

Ted Yarmoski, Contributing Writer

NFL protesters have the absolute right under our Constitution to kneel and raise their fists during the National Anthem. However, they should remember that the singing of our National Anthem honors Americans in the past, in the present and in the future who have sacrificed and will sacrifice their lives to defend and preserve our democracy.

There are many appropriate times and places to express one’s dissatisfaction with the police. The time when we honor those who have given so much for our nation is not one of them.

The NFL protesters need to ask themselves if it is worth it to denigrate the Americans who have died protecting our nation in order to make a statement that could easily be expressed in other ways.

For example, as national and international celebrities, NFL players have access to many media outlets to express their political and personal viewpoints on any issue. The first NFL protester, Colin Kaepernick, has nearly one million followers on Twitter and 1.5 million followers on Instagram, and the NFL players who have joined him also have the ability to reach millions of people through social media. Even though their protests during the National Anthem have received more attention than their social media comments might, it comes at a price. While some Americans, including President Obama, say that the protests have brought attention to legitimate topics that need to be addressed, our National Anthem is being degraded. Brave men and women who have served our country are being disrespected. Many Americans who might have agreed with the protests may not support their protest due to the respect of our flag. This also creates a division between players on the same team over the protest.

Ironically, many of the 600,000 Union soldiers who were wounded or died during the U.S. Civil War sang our National Anthem as they marched into battle to, among other things, fight to end slavery. Stephen A. Smith, a commentator on ESPN, has said that soldiers fight for the freedom that allows Kaepernick to have such protests, but he forgets that the anthem is our nation’s way of respecting our soldiers. The NFL protesters are making a mockery of the sacrifices made to preserve our democracy and the rights we exercise daily.