William Bowers

Author and American Air Force Veteran of Operation Desert Shield/Storm

The National Anthem, The First Amendment, and A Choice


Honoring our National Anthem is for most Americans, a time-honored tradition that we hold close to our hearts. Old Glory is held with great affection and love. For many Americans, we cling to the red, white and blue as our way to honor the sacrifices made to bring us our freedom.

NFL Season 2018-2019

Now that the NFL season is upon us, we are again reminded of a player who sparked a protest during the most sacred moments in professional sports stating, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

Immediately, I along with millions of other Americans, lashed out against this man for disrespecting the flag.  In the America I was raised in; our flag serves as a symbol to honor those who lost their lives protecting the same freedoms this man has enjoyed his entire life.

Can of Worms

With the can of worms opened, the media unleashed and tried to defend this man’s pouty actions indicating his protest was simply a message against social injustice; not a message against the military or police or America at all. The motivation was to create awareness and dialogue for what he perceives is a country that oppresses black people and people of color.

Venue Choice

My problem with his protest- the venue he chose and the people who are blindly supporting this citing his First Amendment right. I agree, there are injustices in our country. And, I agree that we should do something about it. However, I am not convinced this is the most effective way to get any message out there.

The National Anthem and First Amendment Rights

This person did everything within the law. Not standing for the National Anthem is a legal form of peaceful protest, which is a First Amendment right. He was guaranteed the right to peacefully protest without fear of retribution from the government. However, like all actions, consequences follow. His choice resulted in division among teams, fans, sponsors and employers. Furthermore, he failed to see that the consequences of his actions, were not protected from his employer’s rights.

Freedom’s Price

Think about this- when the National Anthem of a country that has provided you freedom and your employer is providing you $60 million a year contract, can you really be protesting oppression. Remember that there are minorities risking their lives, being injured and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan that are protecting our freedom for less than $20,000 a year.

Genius?

Personally, I am starting to think this man may be a borderline genius. He was one of the most highly regarded athletes at his position for a few years. Then, his ability and talent started to fade, whether it was from lack of training, lack of preparation or just plain age, we may never know.

Talent Flailing

The fact remains that he was not the talented quarterback he once was and was in danger of losing his job and being cut by his team. I think he sat at home and thought of a way to get his face back in the spotlight. He no longer had the talent, so for him, the best way was to begin a protest that he thought would accomplish his goal. It worked!!!

Divided Country

His actions single-handedly further alienated an already divided country. Passions swelled. The fervor of America was heading for a peak as this man’s face was plastered all over newspapers and televisions throughout the world. When, in all reality, he was nothing more than an oxymoron . By taking a knee during the National Anthem, disrespcting the American flag, and citing the First Amendment; this man is a walking contradiction.  Because our National Anthem, and more importantly our flag  represent what gives all of us the ability to speak up.

In his effort to transform the social theatre, his success was limited. He may have felt virtuous, perhaps useful in bringing an injustice to the front burner; but, was it worth it?  Some would say yes considering he is far from oppressed as a spokesperson by a major athletic wear maker.

Drilled Into Our Heads

For the past several years, it has been drilled into our heads that we cannot do or say anything that makes people feel bad or upsets them. Now, military, veterans, police and all other public service personnel are being told to suck it up. “He is not doing it to disrespect the military, veterans or police. He is doing it to raise awareness.” This seems highly hypocritical coming from the people who tell us we can do or say certain things because it may upset someone’s feelings.

Boycotting the NFL

Now people are boycotting the NFL because a few bad apples are jumping on the protest bandwagon. When I look at those joining in the protest, most of them seem to be fringe players. Players you probably never heard of because of their lack of talent. Their only motivation seems to be to get their faces on TV because they don’t get much playing time. Interestingly, when they get cut, they can blame it on the protest.

Can’t Do it

As an American and a Veteran, I can’t bring myself to protest or boycott the NFL. I am still watching my favorite infuriating team every week. Boycotting would be akin to cutting off my nose to spite my face. I enjoy watching my team and rooting for them every week. I refuse to let a few bad apples spoil something I enjoy.

Painful

Yes, it pains me to see these ungrateful people kneel or flash a gang sign during the most sacred moment in professional sports. But the reality of the situation is that our nation has faced far greater challenges than NFL players who refuse to stand. And, we have faced and defeated formidable foes and enemies throughout our nation’s history.

Not Worth It

But, boycotting because of a few ungrateful people, would be as bad as those who hate all police officers because of a few bad cops. In every workplace across the country there are bad employees. Frankly, there are bad people all over the world. However, if we boycotted everything because of those bad people, we are left to wonder what would ever be accomplished.

Never Waiver

In my opinion, these protests do not cause us to waiver, but rather cause our patriotism to run deeper and stronger as Americans. We stand a little taller and remain standing a little longer after the anthem is played. We sing a little louder and prouder. Even possibly, we find a tear welling in the corner of our eye, as we humbly and solemnly honor all those who have sacrificed for every freedom we enjoy in this imperfect, yet greatest nation in all of history, The United States of America.

You Choose

So, protest as you choose, you have that right; but do it with full knowledge that the blood of every veteran runs through the red stripes of that flag. Their courage and valor run through those 50, blue-encased white stars. And, their pure sacrifice is in every white stripe perfectly placed on that flag. The flag that represents the United Stated of America- land of the free and home of the brave.

I choose to believe the words of John Philip Sousa, “The red, white and starry blue is freedom’s shield and hope.”

13 Comments

  1. Possibly the best blog you have done. Your points are well stated and I agree with the entire blog. One statement stands out above all the rest. Colin Kaepernick and his fellow protestors did in fact create an upwelling of pride and an increase in patriotism throughout the nation. I can at least thank them for that!

  2. Well done brother! I agree with Mike, probably one of the best blogs you have ever written!

  3. Always knew we raised you right.

  4. Well, I will agree with you and these two to a point. It is a well written blog. However as a veteran, as a cop, and as an American I was very offended.

    My response is that I will not watch, read about, nor listen to anything from the NFL until they stand. Why should I give my hard earned money to someone who hates me. I have not watched an NFL game since 2016 except two Super Bowls and I regret that lapse. I will not watch any more. I have turned down free tickets to the Chiefs twice and really cheap ones to the Cowboys. I have cancelled my NFL tv subscription.

    I won’t buy products by NFL sponsors. No Bud light, no Doritos (that was really hard), no Ford products (including rentals) and so on.

    They have the right to protest but actions have consequences. I love football but I cannot support an organization that doesn’t support me. Screw ’em! Smoke

    • Smoke, That’s what I was saying. However, it is only a few, mostly non essential players that are protesting. I am with you on not buying anything the NFL pushes, but I am not going to take away from myself something I enjoy watching for a few bad eggs. Chevy is better than Ford anyway.

  5. This is my favorite blog hands down. I respect your willingness to take your stand on a topic that many will hide from. I will always stand, you know that. I will always get that chill and tear (or multiple tears) will touch my cheek when our anthem plays. If not for those who made the acarifice, I would not have my freedoms. Thank you Bill!

  6. Well said!
    I wonder. Genius? Possibly but not probably. While the idea of taking a knee was probably his own, I can’t but wonder if folks with agendas began to pull his strings. Just asking. Thanks Bill!

  7. It is indeed a struggle for our understanding and worthy of discussion. If I may offer my perspective, the way to curing the ills and ending the wrongs is love and caring not force. Rebuke delivered in love has its place. Rebuke delievered in hate is almost always either ineffective or exacererbating. Keep talking.

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