Yes, the actual lyrics of our National Anthem really do end with a question mark. That’s a key point, since so many Americans have no clue as to what those words mean, or what the song even stands for. Most people just stand, because they feel…that’s what you’re supposed to do! Colin Kaepernick, who plays quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers team in the National Football League, has brought a lot of attention to himself, and to our Anthem, because he doesn’t stand when it is played.
Kaepernick recently said: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
A number of other athletes—both past and present—have defended Colin Kaepernick’s right not to stand for the playing of the National Anthem before ball games. Interestingly, the many soldiers who have served in America’s wars, throughout our history, have similarly defended his right to either stand or not stand. Isn’t that what freedom is?
A number of politicians and other public people have declared Kaepernick’s refusal to stand as disgraceful. But consider: would’t Colin have saved himself a whole lot of rebuke and aggravation by just standing? Maybe so; But standing to honor something that he does not respect is truly insincere. In this case, isn’t standing-up, or sitting down, in the face of adversity, a form of bravery?
Frankly, I have always wondered why the National Anthem is played before sporting events, or the Pledge of Allegiance is recited before school. Shouldn’t love of country, belief in your God, or anything else that you hold to be self-evident be a personal matter? These things should be retained in your thoughts and your heart, and not forced on others. And once again, isn’t that what Freedom truly means?