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Stand or Kneel: What’s Right From Wrong?

By- Patrick O’Leary

At this time in history, views are diverging and tensions are rising when it comes down to how you should act when our country’s National Anthem is played. This divisive topic has divided the country into two, those who stand, and those who choose to kneel. This has caused a spark within the sports world. Many ask themselves, “What is right from wrong?” In this situation, what would be considered proper etiquette? However, there is no answer to these questions. It is up to us to decide how we should act during the National Anthem, hence this is a country based upon freedom and making your voice heard. We all have the right to free speech as well as the right to protest. The United States of America would not live up to its name if no one upheld these rights provided to us. The actions we exhibit when listening to the National Anthem are solely our own, and it is important that people demonstrate tolerance at such a divisive time in our country’s history.


“Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.” ~John F. Kennedy


Previous generations were not very accepting of others opinions, unlike many who have grown up in today’s political climate. My family has always had a very strong connection to the National Anthem. Both of my grandfathers, along with my great grandfather, vigorously fought to protect our country. In admiration of the many veterans in my family, my family has always stood during the anthem of our country. To me, it has always been a sign of respect. To me, the flag represents the struggles this country has gone through to get to where it is now. Most importantly, to me, the anthem of the United States of America represents freedom. These beliefs were passed down through my family to me, at a very young age, when I had not yet formed my own opinions. Along with that, the people at sports games would always stand for the anthem, making me think that it was the right thing to do. For most of my life, this belief led me to contradict the beliefs of those who did not stand during the anthem. In my mind, they were always considered as “disrespectful.” Other aspects of today’s society have led me to think standing for the anthem was the right thing to do. For instance, on the television, the announcers always say, “Please rise for the singing of our National Anthem.” In addition, in school my friends and teachers influenced my beliefs. They would always tell me that it is important to stand during the anthem. I never wanted to be the oddball who went against everyone else.


“Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance.” ~Mark Twain


At this point in my life, I find it critical to form my own opinions based upon the beliefs I hold. If everyone thought the same things, society would not be healthy and diverse. Nothing would ever change. Great things arise from the imagination of others. To this day, I still hold the belief that it is important to stand during our anthem. In my opinion, the anthem symbolizes the story of our country. It shares how it all started, and the brave souls it took to fight for our freedom. I feel a sense of pride whenever I hear it,  stemming from the story it tells. The National Anthem represents my core values. I am proud to be an American. I am proud that I get to represent my country the best I can. And most of all, I’m glad that I am able to respect a National Anthem as great as ours.


“Our flag honors those who have fought to protect it, and is a reminder of the sacrifice of our nation's founders and heroes. As the ultimate icon of America's storied history, the Stars and Stripes represents the very best of this nation.” ~Joe Barton


The beliefs that I clutch onto today are ones I have formed myself. Although I still believe it is important to stand for our anthem, I formed my thoughts based upon what I believed, not what my family believed. My family and I’s views differ at the thought of people sitting during the National Anthem. They have always seen sitting as disrespectful and rude. However, I have learned to accept and understand those who do choose to sit. Nothing is ever perfect, even if things may seem to be. Although the United States is considered a country where everyone is treated equally,in reality it is not. There are many unjust acts that occur within the country itself. After realizing this, I began to understand why people choose to sit. Some choose to sit during the anthem because they see different forms of prejudice taking place against minorities. For example, some people kneel in protest of police brutality. By kneeling during the National Anthem, it creates a voice that shows something is wrong and it needs to change.


“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” ~Colin Kaepernick


Once upon a time, I formed my opinions based upon those who I grew up around. I truly believe that a society tolerant of differing opinions is crucial to making the world a better place. The greatest achievements always start off with one thought or opinion. I think it’s important to stand for the anthem, as it symbolizes many important things. However, I respect those who choose otherwise. In conclusion I have one last thing to add: “What is right from wrong?”

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