Stand for Our Vets or Kneel for Our Rights?

Alexia McDermott

To kneel or not to kneel? It’s what dictated the entire NFL season; it’s what got Colin Kaepernick a multi-million dollar book deal; it’s what got football fans on every level whether it be college or the pros level up in arms. That’s right. Here it is again: kneeling during the national anthem.

This oh so controversial topic hit the headlines again once a commercial that was set to air this past Sunday during Super Bowl 52 was denied after wanting to include a line saying, “Please Stand.” That’s right. Anyone can throw shade y’all.

This was quite obviously a reference to football players across the country kneeling during the anthem to protest the social/racial inequality in our country. This has caused quite a stir, after people accused those of doing so, of disrespecting our country and those who fought for it. And the issues got even bigger once the league started threatening players, and Colin Kaepernick, formerly the quarterback of San Francisco 49ers, was suspended and is now free agent after refusing rodgers and kneeling during the anthem (“allegedly”).

The commercial refused by the NFL was one already approved by the NHL and the NBA, but to be quite honest- they should have known by now, that phrase would cause issues. The league has editorial control over what is shown and tried to edit the message to “Honor our Vets” or even “Please Stand for Our Vets” to no avail according to Snopes. Due to having to meet production deadlines and the American Vets (AMVETS), who sponsored the commercial, refusing to comply, the commercial ended up not being shown at all.

Marion Polk, the national commander of of AMVETS responded to Commissioner Roger Goodell after realizing their message would not be shown, “Freedom of speech works both ways. We respect the rights of those who choose to protest, as these rights are precisely what our members have fought — and in many cases died — for imposing corporate censorship to deny that same right to those veterans who have secured it for us all, is reprehensible and totally beyond the pale.”

Honestly, when you throw free speech into anything, things can get messy. Whether someone doesn’t like your opinion or not, it should not impact your right to voice it. However, the kneeling position is nothing new. It has been going on for a long time, along with its reason why.

We have a lot of issues concerning this country (threat of nuclear war, white supremacist hitting people with their cars, school shootings etc..) bigger than not standing for national anthem. It’s hard to keep this conversation going, once you truly realize what is still facing us.

But to restate what has already been said over and over: the national anthem is a fraud. It has been proven time and time again, since the building of this country that this is not really the home of the free.

The taking the land of the Native Americans, the enslavement and continuous prejudice against African Americans, and the forced deportation of Mexicans are just a few reminders of this fact. The protest is against the hope the national anthem gives everyone who steps foot on this country and the countless times the government and its bureaucracy has let us, as a nation, down.

Nothing to do with the sacrifices our soldiers have made for us. Plus, once you truly think about the national anthem being sung before a sports game- that’s how we honor them.

Countless widows and parentless children, those who lost limbs, or have some type of mental illness from the horror they faced the endless sacrifices they made, and we honor them be singing a song before they toss the old pigskin around.

There is honestly no way for us, who never faced (and hopefully will never have to if we don’t want to) war to truly thanks those who fight for us everyday, but the national anthem was not made for veterans. It was made to celebrate our country, which once again, continues to let us all down.

Though I understand both sides, I am not surprised that the commissioner denied the commercial.

At the end of the day, football is a national pastime. It’s meant to make everyone forget the issues in the world, and though kneeling does counteract that notion, the retaliation from the AMVETS would have made it worse. At the end of the day, we’re left with the same questions every time this topic comes up.

Do we stand and salute for the veterans, because the national anthem is for them? Or do we kneel for every unarmed black men killed, every Mexican forcibly deported, and every anti-racism activist hit by a car? Or is there a truly right answer at all?