Where do You Stand on The National Anthem Controversy?

October 27, 2016

There has been a lot of anger and debate concerning the recent national anthem behavior of San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, as well as Olympians Gabby Douglas and Michael Phelps during the 2016 Olympics. Kaepernick, Douglas, and Phelps have all created an uproar within the nation by not doing what the population sees as proper etiquette.

Colin Kaepernick hopes to raise awareness for police brutality against black people through his protests during the national anthem. He is protesting by kneeling instead of standing during the national anthem. In August of this year, Kaepernick explained his stance in a USA Today article.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right,” said Kaepernick.

At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Brazil, gymnast Gabby Douglas did not put her hand over her heart while standing for the national anthem. A number of Americans quickly criticized her of her actions. Douglas responded to her critics through a tweet.

“First I want to say thank you everyone for all your support!! It’s a huge honor for me to be able to represent #TeamUSA. In response to a few tweets I saw tonight, I always try to stand at attention out of respect for our country whenever the national anthem is played. I never meant any disrespect and apologize if I offended anyone”.

Olympic Swimmer, Michael Phelps had a similar situation. He was seen laughing his way through the national anthem after winning the 200M butterfly event.

Adam Shaw, a sophomore in the JROTC program, is proud of America, but also understands the protestor’s intentions.

Lake Ridge JROTC presents flag before a football game
George Olsen
Lake Ridge JROTC presents flag before a football game

“I stand for everyone who has fought and died for our country and I do think that you should stand and pay tribute when the anthem is played because it is bigger than us, but I do think it is a way of peaceful protest to raise awareness of a cause because if they don’t do it, then who will?” said Shaw.

Dr. Vonda Nunley, principal at Lake Ridge High School, states that here at Lake Ridge there are no regulations regarding the behavior a student must follow during the national anthem.

“There is no district policy against it, nor does it stipulate in our code of conduct. The expectation is that students would respect the national anthem,” said Nunley.

Natasha Stewart, Lake Ridge High School associate principal, says that students have their rights to protest, but hopes people would do it in a respectful manner.

“In the United States of America, people are given freedoms and the right to protest if that’s what they choose to do. I would hope that anyone who chooses to protest has a legitimate reason and would be smart in how they are protesting and would make sure they are not causing hurt, harm, or injury to anyone around them and that they are doing it peacefully and respectfully where others are concerned,” said Stewart.

Jordyn Williams, a swimmer at Lake Ridge, believes the actions are disrespectful in certain circumstances.

“I understand that there are terrible things happening in America right now that are inexcusable and it seems like nothing is being done, however, America has had a lot of issues that we have overcome and a lot of success. To not be apart of the pledge and blatantly ignore it is disrespectful not only to America, but to everyone before us who has fought and died to make this country great. We should all be fighting to unify ourselves under one flag and not give up when we’ve lost one battle.”

Kelly Rowe, a junior on the basketball team, believes Kaepernick is just honoring his constitutional rights.

“Kaepernick does have his right to protest because of the constitution and it’s amendments. It brings more awareness to the situation and helps people realize the seriousness of it,” said Rowe.

Lauren Petersen, junior, does not agree with the protests, but does respect everyone’s opinion.

“I do think it is disrespectful to everyone honoring our country, but I do understand that there are some people who may not support it or people who have different pledges. I think that those people should still stand up, but just not recite it if they choose not to and just be respectful of those trying to support the country.”



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