Saturday, February 24, 2018

Ray Dale

Veterans even protect NFL players

Literary Junction
Earlier this fall, there was a huge uproar during the opening weeks of the NFL season with regards to what teams were doing during the playing of the National Anthem. It didn’t seem to matter what kind of stand each team was taking on the subject, somebody denounced it. 
It seems the whole country is rather polarized on its opinion of the actions taken by the players, coaches and, in some cases, even the owners. 
There doesn’t seem to be much of a middle ground. People seem to either strongly support what is happening in the NFL or strongly oppose it, some to the point that they are calling for a boycott of anything that has to do with professional football.
Those protesting the loudest about kneeling or sitting during the National Anthem often seem to be those with a strong connection to the military. Whether they are active or former members of the military, those with family members in a branch of the service, or just those who support the military out of a sense of patriotism, it is often they who are voicing their opinions loud and clear. 
If I may be so bold, I will say that, as a veteran myself, I am in complete agreement with those who are disgusted by those sitting during the National Anthem – or, for that matter, other forms of protest, such as burning or desecrating the American flag. 
Here’s the problem, however. All those, including me, who enter the military take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. The Supreme Court ruled some years ago that the actions we are talking about here are a form of protest and as such are protected under the First Amendment guaranteeing the right to freedom of expression. As reprehensible as I may find the burning of a flag or kneeling during the National Anthem by a bunch of overpaid prima donnas, they are, in fact, exercising a freedom guaranteed them and have every right to do so.
I can speak from personal experience when I say all those who served in the armed forces, including those who made the ultimate sacrifice, did so to protect the freedoms that we as Americans hold dear. It is those freedoms that make the United States of America what it is. But freedom cannot be for just those whose opinions I agree with. It must be for all or it is not freedom at all. 
On Friday, Nov. 10, the Big Horn County Library will be closed in observance of Veterans’ Day. If you are a veteran, thank you.
If you know someone who is active military or a veteran, be sure to thank them for their service and sacrifice in protecting our rights as Americans.