What being American means to me

I woke up the other day and decided to check Facebook before heading to work. It’s no secret that I am not a sports fan, but football may be my least favorite of them all. Probably 90 percent of my feed that morning and several subsequent mornings was about how an NFL team didn’t come out of their locker room for the anthem.

I saw some really hateful comments on news stories but I think the worst part is that some of those nasty comments came from people on my friends list. People that I thought would never use that sort of language when talking about other people.

Here is where my opinion will become wildly unpopular.

What right do we have, as Americans, to tell anyone else how or when to protest? I know I will be called un-American and all kinds of other horrible names for this opinion, but frankly, I don’t care. The things I saw written about those football players, who by the way, are people just like you and me, were awful. Some even said they deserved death for not coming out and standing for the anthem.

Think about that for a second. What countries’ leaders do we know who call for death for their citizens who don’t pledge their undying devotion to their country? Or who can’t use the internet for fear they’ll talk badly about their government?

Think about that. I’ll wait.

I’m not going to pretend that I understand all of the different ways different countries’ governments work. I’m just thankful that I have the freedom to write this column, because I’m an American. We don’t have to agree with the way people protest, or even agree with what they’re protesting about, but as Americans, we do have to allow them the right to do it.

Some of you are going on and on about how they need to leave the country if they can’t respect the flag or the anthem because that’s not American. The only thing I see that’s not American is those people telling others to leave the country if they can’t abide by our constitution. I hate to break it to you, but those are the people who are acting un-American. The constitution gives people the right to peacefully protest. The constitution does not give anyone the right to force people to behave how they want them to.

The men and women who fought and died for this country ensured the rights of citizens to be able to peacefully protest any way they want to, whether we like it or not.

Just like those football players have the right to protest by kneeling or not leaving the locker room during the anthem, restaurants have the right to not play the games on their televisions as a result of the protest and you have the right to boycott the NFL. We don’t have the right to force anyone to be as patriotic as we want them to be.

My dad served this country for 20 years in the Navy and my grandpa served in the army. I’m proud of their service. I stand every time I hear the anthem no matter where I am, whether there is a flag around or not.

Truthfully, what we should be upset about is the fact that I went to a military function not too long ago when the anthem began to play and not one service member stood until a friend of mine and I stood. It took two civilian women standing for the anthem for the service men and women to follow suit.

That’s something worth getting upset about.


Reach Kathleen Guill at 580-379-0588, ext. 2602.

Reach Kathleen Guill at 580-379-0588, ext. 2602.

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