National anthem protest sparks true patriotism

Andrew Fulmer

When San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest to raise awareness of wrongdoings against minorities during the 2016 NFL preseason gained widespread media coverage, many heated opinions formed.

On one hand, some people felt doing anything other than standing at attention or placing ones hand on their chest during the national anthem is disrespectful, especially to those who have served or are currently serving this country in the armed forces.

On the flipside, others believed he had every right to protest and use his position as a high profile athlete to bring awareness to an issue that has plagued this nation for a long time.

No matter which side of the argument you agree with, Kaepernick’s protest is one of the most American events in recent history.

I will start my defense of this argument with a short story.

Two hundred and forty years ago, a group of rebellious ruffians, who felt oppressed by an unjust government, had tolerated the oppression long enough. The troublemakers decided to voice their opinion in a way that everybody in power would know their intentions.

Which government? That would be the British government under King George III.

Who where these ruffians? They were our founding fathers.

There have been many instances in American history where defiance led to great change. Obvious ones like Rosa Parks refusing to give up her bus seat, or Susan B. Anthony illegally voting in the House of Representatives elections in 1872 stand out. Some not so obvious ones like Dee Snider of Twisted Sister testifying against the Parents Music Resource Center’s music censorship program in 1985 still had an impact from one’s protest.

I am not trying to compare these acts, nor say any are more important than the other. The fact is that America is great partly because of people who dare to go against the majority for change.

One of the biggest arguments against Kaepernick is his actions are disrespectful to those who are willing to pay the ultimate price, and those who have, to protect this country.

But that is a moot point because they are not fighting for a song or a flag. They are fighting for our identity as Americans. They fight to ensure that our freedoms, including those that allow us to protest and demonstrate, carry on to future generations.

I mean no disrespect for those in the military. I am thankful for the brave men and women who risk their lives in strange and foreign lands. But, insisting someone has no right to protest is an un-American notion.

Yes, Kaepernick could have simply donated money or time to charities and organizations for his cause. But there is a limit to how much money and time one person can spend.

Kaepernick started a nation-wide conversation about his idea, and there is virtually no limit to the merits it could reap. That is about as American as you can be.