Controversy has been widespread with the National Football League, the national anthem, racial injustice in America, and the merging of the three. Personally, I am not going to kneel down in support of whatever your cause.
I am also not going to link arms as a show of togetherness. It seems phony and is just not me.
On the other hand, I am also not going to do things during the national anthem that are considered disrespectful to “my country ’tis of thee.” Perhaps this is because I am a U.S. Army veteran. Maybe it is because America has been very good to me. Maybe it is because it is just the right thing to do.
Football players kneeling during the national anthem say it has nothing to do with disrespecting the country, soldiers or the flag. They say that, but that does not make it so. The mere fact that it is done during the national anthem makes it somewhat disrespectful. Not every American looks at the flag the same way, which is OK. I used to get a lot of flack from some friends because I did not hold my hand over my heart during the anthem. I thought it was overkill, and I could be respectful with my hands behind my back.
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I sometimes kneel to pray. Sometimes. The Bible says, “And when you stand praying, forgive.” Sometimes prayer is standing and sometimes prayer is kneeling. The NFL had controversy with Tim Tebow and kneeling. He was mocked, and eventually run out of the league. I consider prayer a good reason to kneel.
I also kneel when proposing marriage. Asking for a lady’s hand in marriage is a legitimate reason to kneel, even if it is just a tradition and a custom that has been around for years. Often when you hear of a couple getting engaged, the first thing asked, other than ring size, is did he get down on one knee? Did he do it right? It is proper to kneel when proposing.
I would also kneel if being knighted and honored by England. Being dubbed, with a sword tap on each shoulder, while kneeling on one knee, is a very special ceremony reserved for those the king or queen of England wants to recognize. It has happened to Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Elton John, and Dame Judi Dench. It is kneeling, but respectful and reverent.
Kneeling during the playing of the national anthem is neither respectful nor reverent; it just seems to be very out of place. Of course, it is better than sitting, which reminds me of someone with their pants sagging down, not being aware it started as a prison method of saying your buttocks were available. The last time I saw an NFL player sitting during the national anthem, I thought of the sagging pants. I wondered if the player knows just how bad it looks, or does he maybe think it looks good.
I don’t play football for a living, but I know there is a time to take a knee. When a kickoff is too deep in the end zone, a player should probably take a knee. When trying to run out the clock, sometimes a player should take a knee. Other than that, taking a knee is not something that should be done in football. It is somehow contrary to the nature of the game. It just does not fit.
So, yes, there are times when I kneel. There are also times when I don’t. The playing of the national anthem is a time when I would stand. It does not matter what issues are creating controversy at the time, the national anthem is its own reward. Respect and reverence are sometimes deserved, sometimes earned, and sometimes, it is just the right thing to do.
Reach Thomas W. Downey of Louisville at firstname.lastname@example.org.