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A controversy over a year-long nationwide anthem protest heated rapidly over the weekend. The nationwide anthem protest started in 2016 by football player Colin Kaepernick, who determined to sit throughout the pregame power of the Star-Spangled Banner to to mark racial injustices and police brutality. After speaking with environment-friendly Beret Nate Boyer, he and also fellow athlete and also teammate Eric Reid, began kneeling during the anthem, quite than sitting. “We chose to kneel because it’s a respectful gesture,” Reid writes in one op-ed to “The new York Times. “I remember thinking our posture was prefer a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy.”

While the protest was noticed and also drew solid emotions–both for and against such a gesture–it did not get widespread popularity within the NFL until President Trump’s comment singling out the protesters over the weekend. Trump, during a political rally in Alabama, called for the shooting of NFL players who participated, saying, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects ours flag, to say, ‘Get that kid of a bitch off the ar right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired!"”

By Sunday, teams, owners, and coaches across the NFL were deciding just how they would respond. Those with armed forces affiliations, prefer Alejandro Villenueva (an military Ranger who stood because that the anthem but then recognized his presence during the track was a mistake) and also Bruce Maxwell (the first MLB player to kneel during the anthem that is additionally a military kid) found became lightning rods because that both “sides.”

Whether kneeling, standing, locking arms, or simply not showing up on the field, the athletes’ postures and also positions sparked a conversation that led away from gyeongju justice and also police brutality and also morphed into a discussion on patriotism, which often cites respecting the army as a factor to was standing for the anthem.

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With the in mind, we made decision to take a close look in ~ a few responses from the armed forces community. (Of course, this isn’t one inclusive perform of every service member, spouse, and also military-connected politician who has made a statement. This perform strives to incorporate a diversity of background, opinion, and also affiliation as room and time allow.)

Gold Star families

Those who check out the protest together disrespectful to the military and also the country, easily held up yellow Star widows and families. Those who shed loved people in business to the US also entered the fray themselves, part wishing come voice their agreement, while rather refused come let your sacrifices be co-opted.

Taya Kyle, mam of “American Sniper” chris Kyle, published a article on she public Facebook page titled “A Letter come the NFL.” In the piece, she admonished the NFL because that what she views as creating division, saying, “You room asking united state to abandon what we loved about togetherness and also make selections of division.” You have the right to read the remainder of the letter here.

Pat Tillman’s widow, Marie Tillman, asked that her husband’s memory no be supplied for political department after president Trump retweeted a write-up invoking pat Tillman. Her husband played because that the Arizona Cardinals before leaving to serve in the military. He was killed in a friendly fire accident in Afghanistan in 2004. A released statement through Marie Tillman, reads in part, “The very action of self expression and the freedom to speak from one’s love — no matter those views — is what Pat and also so plenty of other american have given their resides for. Even if lock didn’t always agree through those views.” You deserve to read the remainder of the statement here.

A yellow Star daughter, Kelly McHugh-Stewart, penned one opinion item for the brand-new York Times, relenten an NFL video game she to visit after she father’s fatality where fans adjusted the words, heckled the performing band, and didn’t pay attention during the national anthem. In the piece, she says about the NFL protest, “Not once throughout these calm protests have actually I gotten the sense that the players’ on purpose is come disrespect the military. Not as soon as did ns feel the they were taking my father’s can be fried sacrifice for granted. Rather, lock were working out the precise freedoms mine father provided his life for.” You deserve to read the rest of the opinion item here.

Service members and veterans

Service members and also veterans likewise spoke out– periodically through just a picture–on their assistance or lack thereof for the anthem protests.

Black veterans, spotlighted by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, explain their location on the protests. One, william Hudson, Jr., a Vietnam war veteran, is quoted saying, “They are not disrespecting me and also I nothing feel prefer they are disrespecting the flag. . . As soon as I was in Vietnam fighting, I would certainly see world burning the flag earlier over here. That was disrespectful. . . If anything, the football players space honoring the flag by showing what unified means.” James Allen, a oriental War veteran, agreed v the appropriate to protest however not the method, saying, ““There are other methods to protest other than disrespect the flag. . . They can protest, yet not this way.” Read the entire piece here.

This week, the photograph of 97-year-old world War II veteran, john Middlemas, walk viral once his nephew tweeted it in addition to a quote native his grandfather: “Those youngsters have every ideal to protest.” Just four years ago– together a 93-year-old–Middlemas marched for civil rights and to commemorate Dr. Young name Luther King’s “I have actually a Dream” speech. He attributes his id in civil rights to the moment he spent serving together black seafarers in the Navy. You have the right to read much more about Middlemas here.

Representative Brian Mast (R-FL), who offered in the military for 12 years and also lost both foot in Afghanistan, required to Facebook to call on the NFL to call for respect of the nationwide anthem. “Any player who has taken a knee come protest this an excellent country throughout its anthem should already be gone,” the said. You deserve to read the full Facebook article here.


Of course, army leaders were additionally questioned through the media or released their very own statements on the issue. Indigenous veterans organizations to height brass, countless weighed in.

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Secretary of Defense James Mattis, in solution to a question on the controversy, said, ““I’m the Secretary that Defense. We defend the country.”

Both the American Legion and VFW–two that the largest veterans organizations in America– released statements condemning the protests. The VFW’s nationwide commander, Keith Harman, said, “There is a time and place for polite debate, and also wearing team jerseys and also using sporting events to disrespect our nation doesn’t wash v millions of military veterans that have and continue come wear actual uniforms on real battlefields around the globe.”

Denise Rohan, the very first female command of the American Legion, exit a statement, speak in part, “There are many ways come protest but the nationwide anthem have to be our minute to stand together as one United states of America. Having actually a best to carry out something does no make that the best thing come do.” You can read an ext about the American Legion and also the VFW’s an answer here.