Tag Archives: National Anthem

Is it gut-check time for the NFL?

The National Football League needs to re-evaluate a few priorities.

A young man is trying to find a spot with one of the NFL’s professional football teams. He’s a pretty good quarterback. He once led the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2013.

Then he did something foolish, perhaps even stupid. He decided to kneel during the playing of the National Anthem at the start of football games. Colin Kaepernick was protesting the plight of African-Americans. He decided to make a political statement by declining to stand for the Anthem.

He’s been vilified ever since.

Why the NFL re-evaluation? Well consider a thing or two. The league has allowed actual convicted felons to play football. They’ve been convicted of spousal abuse, sexual abuse, illegal dog fighting, drug peddling. Why, one of the game’s all-time greats — retired linebacker Ray Lewis — once pleaded no contest to a charge in connection with the murder of an individual. He retired recently and has been feted as one of the game’s giants. Huh? Yep.

Kaepernick has been convicted of nothing. He has committed no crime. He merely chose to make a political statement. Yes, I wish he hadn’t done it that way. But that is his prerogative. It’s in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees him the right to do what he did.

Kaepernick was waived by the 49ers. He wants to keep playing football. General managers, team owners and head coaches are afraid of fan reaction, I suppose.

Check out John Feinstein’s excellent column on Kaepernick right here.

Do you remember when a young boxer declined induction into the U.S. Army, citing his religious objection to the Vietnam War? The late Muhammad Ali was stripped of his heavyweight title in 1967 and then denied the opportunity to fight for a living. He was deprived of more than three prime years of his career. Then in 1970, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Ali had been denied his constitutional right of religious freedom.

Ali returned to the boxing ring and, well, the rest is history.

Colin Kaepernick is facing much of the same recrimination. It is unjust. It’s gut-check time in the NFL.

Immigrant schools Trump on anthem protocol

Ohhh, the irony is so very rich.

There they are: the first family of the United States of America. They’re standing on the Truman Balcony of the White House at the start of the annual White House Easter Egg Roll.

The band strikes up the National Anthem. Barron Trump and his mother, first lady Melania Trump, place their hands over their hearts. Then the first lady nudges the right arm of the man to her left, the president, who then places his right hand over his heart.

Why the irony? Well, Donald J. Trump has spoken badly for, oh, the past year or so about immigrants. The illegal immigrants are pouring into the country to commit all manner of crimes, he has said; the legal immigrants are taking jobs from Americans, he adds.

So, what about the immigrant standing next to him on the balcony? His third wife is a native of Slovenia; indeed, two of the president’s three wives have come here from foreign lands.

There’s just a fascinating bit of poetry associated with this brief video and I am pleased to see that the first lady is so attuned to the “optics” of these events.

Take note, Mr. President. I hope he thanked his wife.

Even chumps have the right to speak out


Colin Kaepernick is a bozo. A chump.

He’s become a poster boy of sorts for all kinds of issues stemming from his decision to remain seated during the playing of the National Anthem before a pro football exhibition game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers.

Kaepernick, a quarterback for the 49ers, said he can’t stand in support of a flag that represents a country that oppresses “people of color.” Kaepernick is half black and half white.

Hmm. OK. I wasn’t aware of Kaepernick’s social conscience. I don’t recall him ever speaking out before. But I guess one has to start somewhere. Thus, Kaepernick chose to make this profound political statement in this highly visible fashion.

I just want to make one comparison with Kaepernick’s demonstration. He reminds me of the flag burners, the goofballs who think burning Old Glory in public to protest this or that cause is going to win them support.

It won’t. It hardly ever does.

However, it’s protected “speech.” The U.S. Constitution allows Americans to make such statements against government policy. Kaepernick chose to mount his grievance with a lousy demonstration of defiance.

He’s not going to win many converts to his cause any more than the flag burners manage to make friends and allies when they do the things they do to protest government policy.

The Constitution, though, gives even chumps like Colin Kaepernick the right to speak out as he has done.

I honor and cherish that right, even if I detest the way some of us exercise it.

Pro QB sits during National Anthem; a big deal? Yes, but …

the New York Giants the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on October 14, 2012 in San Francisco, California. The Giants won 26-3. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

I’ve been stewing for a couple of days over the news of Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit during the playing of the National Anthem prior to the start of a pro football exhibition game.

Kapernick has been reviled, vilified and called everything but a traitor for refusing to stand.

I am not going to go that far.

I wish the San Francisco 49ers quarterback had stood and paid proper respect to the flag and to the nation where he has earned a handsome living playing a kids’ game. He said he sat because he couldn’t support a nation that oppresses “people of color.”

He could have written an essay for newspapers, he could have tweeted his displeasure with American policy toward “people of color,” he could posted something on Facebook.

But no-o-o-o. He wanted to make a spectacle of himself in a stadium in front of tens of thousands of spectators.

Kaepernick obviously wasn’t talking about himself, as he’s hardly been oppressed, except perhaps by his coaches who cannot decide whether he should be the starting quarterback.

Critics have noted that in many other countries around the world, Kaepernick would have been arrested and jailed for failing to stand while the band played a national anthem.

Let’s understand this: Kaepernick is an American citizen. He refused to stand in this country, which has no law requiring Americans to get off their duffs — if they are able — while we play the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

So, he made a political statement. He’s not the first one to do so. He won’t be the last.

Sure, he’ll likely pay a price down the line. My hunch is that sports apparel shops won’t be selling many 49ers jerseys with Kaepernick’s name and No. 7 from this day forward.

The fact remains, though, that our nation’s belief in free speech and political expression gives all of us — even well-known pro athletes — the right to make fools of themselves.

Debate on anthem etiquette expands


Now that we’re discussing — at least for the moment — how one should stand while singing the National Anthem, allow me this observation.

It’s been brought to my attention that as of 2009, it’s OK for military veterans to deliver a salute while the anthem is being played.

This issue came to light after U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas didn’t place her hand over her heart while the anthem was playing as she and her teammates accepted the Olympic gold medal in Rio.

Douglas apologized for offending those who were offended. She didn’t need to do so, in my view.

Then someone reminded me of a change in anthem etiquette that now allows vets to snap a salute while the song is played.

I guess my friend was telling me that because he knows I’m a veteran.

Well, that’s nice of him to do so.

I remember how to salute properly. I just don’t like doing it while standing in civilian attire.

Why? It looks pretentious to me.

Several months ago I watched a fellow stand and salute a television while the anthem was being played during a televised athletic event. I guess the gentleman thought he was making an appropriate statement about how much he loves our country by rendering a hand salute in a public area.

That’s all fine.

I love our country, too. I can’t help but wonder: Would I have to produce my Veterans Administration card to prove I’m eligible to salute?

No apology needed, Gabby


Gabby Douglas, one of the U.S.’s five gold medal-winning Olympic gymnasts, has apologized for “offending” those who were critical of her because she didn’t place her hand over heart during the playing of the National Anthem.

No apology is needed, young lady.


We are now witnessing one of the aspects of social media that infuriates me. People get on Twitter and fire off half-baked critiques and insults.

The U.S. Code of Conduct governing proper etiquette during the playing of the National Anthem added a provision in 2008 that suggests placing the hand over your heart. But the rule isn’t written into law, for crying out loud!

Gabby didn’t do a single thing wrong by standing simply at attention while her teammates place their hands over their hearts.

For the record, I don’t place my hand over my heart, either, while the National Anthem is being played. Am I disrespecting the flag, my country, or am I showing that I am less of a patriot than those who do? Hardly.

Neither is Gabby Douglas.

No singing at memorial? Oh, please!


An overzealous security guard at the 9/11 memorial and museum in New York City deserves a serious reprimand by the New York Port Authority that employs him.

The guard told a North Carolina middle school class to stop singing — here it comes — the National Anthem at the memorial.

It seems that singing isn’t allowed at this sacred site without someone or some group paying for a special permit to do so.

To which I would add: what pure baloney!


The museum staff has issued an apology to the students and their adult chaperones. It said the guard acted inappropriately.

Gee, do you think?

Perhaps the most stunning element of this story might be the reaction from the teachers. They said they viewed the incident as something of a teaching experience for the children. It taught them to “respect authority,” according to the New York Times.

I give huge credit for the teachers for their restraint and their respect for the authority of the guards.

However, it wasn’t as if the kids were singing some kind of raunchy rock song or a ’60s protest song that criticized the federal government.

The students sought to honor the nation with their rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.

It seems the museum brass ought to rethink the rules it has set out. Some clarity at the very least is in order, given that the teachers who led the students were told it would be OK to sing the anthem.

Whatever the outcome, the 9/11 museum and the Port Authority deserve the criticism that is coming their way.


This is how you sing the National Anthem

Three years ago today, Whitney Houston died tragically.

Many of us mourned her death, expressing anguish at the downward spiral her life took prior to her leaving this world.

I just wanted to post this video to remember one of the most marvelous musical instruments God ever produced.

This young woman could sing like few others ever have been able to do.

Enjoy the sound of her voice … one more time. And while you’re at it, take note of the joy on her face as she pays this marvelous tribute to our great country.