Respect the anthem

Michael Clevenger, Contributing writer

Pretty much everyone can agree that the political climate of the past year has been tense.

But no matter what happens, there should be a certain line that shouldn’t be acceptable to cross.

This all started when Black Lives Matter supporter and 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the playing of the national anthem.

It was August 2016 at the Chargers vs. 49ers game when this first began with Kaepernick, but now this protest has ballooned in scale after President Donald Trump called out kneelers during a rally in Alabama.

Trump made it clear that it’s important that NFL players stand at their games during the national anthem.

The following day, some whole teams kneeled in defiance. Others, like my very own Steelers, were ordered to keep to the locker rooms during the anthem.

But a few chose to show deserved respect, such as Alejandro Villanueva.

Villanueva (No. 78) currently is an offensive tackle for the Steelers, but formerly was an Army Ranger who served three tours in Afghanistan.

There were also the Colts, who chose to stand during the national anthem, but took a moment to kneel afterward, still making their point of the protest.

During that time, the ROTC battalion, which I’m a part of, was out in the middle of the woods for the entire weekend.

I was extremely confused when many of my friends and colleagues sent me all these videos on the NFL because many know I’m more of a baseball fan than a football fan.

After looking into the matter a bit more thoroughly, I could understand the outrage that unfolded among the football community.

As a member of ROTC, a cadet learns as a freshman during the first few weeks of class the customs, the historical meaning behind the American flag and the anthem, and what it all stands for through the eyes of the Army.

The flag, for example, is symbolized through the colors: the red stands for valor of those who fought, the blue stands for loyalty and the white for purity and innocence.

Overall, it is a symbol of national pride, and we face and stand at attention to this symbol during the national anthem.

Kneeling during the national anthem is protected under the First Amendment.

But just because we can do it, doesn’t exactly mean we should do it.

Those people you’re disrespecting sacrificed either their lives or more so you could do something as ignorant as that.

Kaepernick said he kneeled to protest in favor of Black Lives Matter.

“Once again, I’m not anti-American,” Kaepernick was quoted saying in a New York Times story chronicling his saga.

But what I see is if you’re willing to overlook the brief minute of honoring those who have fallen for the betterment of your organization, then you’re pretty darn selfish in my eyes.

It was JFK himself that once said the infamous quote, “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”

Well, a good start would be giving up a few moments of your time to respect the fallen and the affected.

I would’ve recognized Kaepernick, the NFL and their intentions much more if they just chose to “take a stand (or knee)” after the national anthem.