Why you should stand for the national anthem

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Rosemond Crown

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has inspired many across the nation to take a knee against injustice in America.

NFL athletes, high school football players, basketball players and cheerleaders are all kneeling during the national anthem as a protest against all of the injustice facing people of color, especially black people, in America.

This form of protest, though subtle, has received much backlash from those who believe the act is unpatriotic and dishonoring to the nation and to those who fight to protect it. If you are unsure of what physical form your body should take when “The Star Spangled Banner” is being played, I will help you to navigate your options.

Prior to forming any arguments, it is important to note that as a member of these  United States, Kaepernick and others have the First Amendment right to stand during the national anthem. In fact they have the right to kneel, jump, cry or sleep during the national anthem.

And those who disapprove of Kaepernick’s behavior also have the same First Amendment right to verbalize their disapproval. This is the beauty of the United States. If both sides can put down the torches for a moment, we will realize that Kaepernick’s protest and the reactions to it (both negative and positive) together make up the very core of our American democracy.

We will realize that this whole controversy is not actually a controversy but rather a patriotic moment. Kaepernick and others can do whatever they want, you can say whatever you want about it and we would still be extremely American.

I  exercise my First Amendment right in telling you that you should in fact stand when the national anthem is sung. This is not to invalidate the frustrations that minority communities feel when they face injustice; this is not to encourage hypocrisy by showing false pride in a country that you are not particularly proud of and certainly this is not to say that your concerns do not matter.

Rather you should stand for the anthem because with all its injustices, there are aspects of American life that you love.

When I stand for the anthem, I do not necessarily stand in honor of men and women in uniform (although their service to our nation is very important). I do not stand in honor of our government or even our president.

When I stand, I stand for the every day Americans who do their very best to keep this nation together; the people who volunteer their time and money at homeless shelters, the  teachers who go out of their way to make every child feel special. I stand up for the single mom who works multiple jobs to make sure her child is happy.

I stand up for those who have dedicated their lives and their voices to speak out on injustice of any kind. I stand up because while I may not be entirely proud of this country, these people give me hope that we are only moving toward a better America.

After watching the unjust and inexcusable murders of several black people in the last few years, it is extremely difficult to stand up, hand over heart and sing “land of the free and home of the brave.”

In those moments, it is difficult to see the freedom and bravery. But it is also important to remember that America does not belong to those in Washington, D.C., those wearing the badge or even those holding the purse strings.

America belongs to all of us. In standing up for the national anthem, we are saying that we refuse to let injustice and unjust people take our country away. We are, in effect, saying America is ours and the only way it can be taken from us is over our dead bodies.