If you haven’t heard already, there is quite the controversy over what professional athletes are doing. If you haven’t heard, then you are clearly living under a rock because it’s not only all over social media, but the news. I have been torn about the whole situation because I am an Army wife who sent my husband overseas for a year and had to take care of a toddler and preschool on my own. My husband is sacrificing a year of his life and our lives to fight for our country. We are sacrificing a lot as well. However, I also do not feel so offended as so many of my counterparts feel when it comes to this situation.
I can give you my own feelings about this, and I started typing them all out, but then I thought, I really should back up my thoughts and I wanted to look into what it actually looks like to disrespect the flag.
As I hear the National Anthem and see the flag, I don’t just hear words and see a piece of red, white, and blue cloth. I see those who have fought for that flag. I see those not just on the battlefield and in uniform, but those who fight everyday to make a life for themselves and their families. That flag represents our country. It represents what this country has been founded on. It does NOT represent the ideals that one person or party holds, but the ideals and values that this nation was founded on. Now, I want you to think about what it is you think about when you put your hand over your heart and sing our National Anthem. Do you think of the hate that goes on in our country? Do you think of the President? Do you think of your neighbor, friend, family member who is serving or has served? At first, I thought, that those that are so offended by the taking a knee have a hard time separating the flag from those in uniform, but then as I sat down and really thought about it, those men and women in uniform are what keeps this country what it is and they are in fact the reason that flag can still fly high.
Now, if we want to talk about if these athletes are disrespecting the flag, I turned to the American Legion and the United States Code (taken from https://www.legion.org/flag/code)
Title 36, Subtitle I, Part A section 301 United States Code – National Anthem
(a) Designation.— The composition consisting of the words and music known as the Star-Spangled Banner is the national anthem.
(b) Conduct During Playing.— During a rendition of the national anthem—
- (1) when the flag is displayed—
(A) individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note;
(B) members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute in the manner provided for individuals in uniform; and
(C) all other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and
- (2) when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.
So, those players ARE IN FACT disrespecting the flag. Now, look around you at any event where the National Anthem is being played. I can guarantee at least 25% (most likely more) are being just as disrespectful. My biggest pet peeve is those who can’t take the time to remove a hat or be silent for the 2 minutes the anthem is playing. I also bet that many of us have disrespected the flag before without even knowing. It was through my research that I learned some valuable information. According to Title 4, United States Code, Chapter 1, subsection 8:
Respect for flag
No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America; the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing. Regimental colors, State flags, and organization or institutional flags are to be dipped as a mark of honor.
(a) The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.
(b) The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.
(c) The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.
(d) The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free.
Bunting of blue, white, and red always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker’s desk, draping the front of the platform, and for decoration in general.
(e) The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.
(f) The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.
(g) The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.
(h) The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
(i) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkin or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.
(j) No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.
(k) The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning. (Disposal of Unserviceable Flags Ceremony)
So for those who are saying these men are taking a knee in silent but respectful protest, according to code, you are just wrong. There are other ways they can make their point, but when it comes down to it, they are actually being disrespectful to not only our country but to the men and women who have worked so hard and sacrificed to much to allow that flag to fly high.