Over 1.1 million Americans have died in the line of duty fighting to defend the United States, the freedom its citizens have, and yes, the flag.
The first six weeks of the National Football League season have seen players from almost every team kneel during the playing of the national anthem, a protest popularized by Colin Kapernick, the former starting quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, who was the first player to kneel for the national anthem last season in an attempt to protest what he viewed as a “disproportional” burden of police confrontations falling on the African American community.
The inappropriate nature of this protest is rooted in its history, which disputes any claim by demonstrators that the protest is not linked directly with the sacrifice of the military.
The first notable occurrence of the National Anthem being played at sporting events was during the 1918 World Series. Leading up to this game, which people had pondered canceling due to World War I raging, the death toll for the United States had risen above 100,000 soldiers and several members of each baseball team had held positions in the military.
Historians chronicle a somber tone over the course of the game, until the seventh inning stretch. Before the start of the eighth inning the U.S. Navy band began playing the Star-Spangled Banner, which ignited the crowd and famously summoned all players to turn towards the flag and place their hand over their hearts. Red Sox third basemen and furloughed member of the U.S. Navy Fred Thomas immediately assumed a military salute and stood proudly facing the flag. Historians have noted that the enthusiasm expressed by the crowd after the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner, which at that point was not the official national anthem, was far greater than it was at any other point during the game.
The NFL ordered the National Anthem to be played before every game after Japan’s surrender in the second world war. The commissioner, Elmer Layden, justified his order by saying “We must not drop it simply because the war is over. We should never forget what it stands for.”
The playing of the National Anthem was, and continues to be, a salute to the people who have sacrificed to defend our country and the ideals it represents. The occurrence of it before athletic events is a gesture by the players and fans who acknowledge that the purpose of the men fighting overseas is greater than their own.
The magnitude of the National Anthem has been lost; it is a victim of the radical left’s crusade against patriotism and respect for the men and women defending our nation. The National Anthem is not a symbol of American domestic policy, which the protesters claim they disagree with. The sacrifice it honors is not one of a specific policy or political orientation, it only serves to inspire and remind the American people of the ongoing fight to defend our mutually treasured ideals and hopes.