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Importance of First Amendment for Being American

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What does being American mean? Is it okay to kneel during the National Anthem? Is kneeling during the National Anthem really a disrespectful gesture? Can you be forced to display signs of patriotism? These questions among others have come up a lot in the wake of Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling protest. Kaepernick is an ex-NFL quarterback, who began kneeling during the National Anthem in September of 2016. It became a trend throughout the NFL with many teams protesting in their own way. Everybody has their own opinion, and we don’t necessarily know which view is correct. Many people say that by kneeling during The Star Spangled Banner you are disrespecting the men and women in the military, but was that really the intention? Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the National Anthem was an ethical, lawful, and respectful form of protest.First of all, many people think that kneeling is a disrespectful gesture; however, throughout history kneeling has always been seen as a respectful gesture. For example, in Medieval times a peasant would kneel before the king and queen to show respect. If kneeling is a respectful gesture then, how is it unethical to kneel during the National Anthem? Eric Reid, a safety for the San Francisco 49ers, who knelt with Colin Kaepernick wrote, “We chose to kneel because it’s a respectful gesture. I remember thinking our posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy.” Reid explains that he was not trying to be disrespectful to the flag or to the soldiers, he was just trying to draw attention to racial and social injustice. He also says how kneeling is a respectful protest. Kneeling has historically been a sign of reverence; the players are still paying respect to the armed forces of America.

Additionally, forced signs of patriotism are unconstitutional. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or

What does being American mean? Is it okay to kneel during the National Anthem? Is kneeling during the National Anthem really a disrespectful gesture? Can you be forced to display signs of patriotism? These questions among others have come up a lot in the wake of Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling protest. Kaepernick is an ex-NFL quarterback, who began kneeling during the National Anthem in September of 2016. It became a trend throughout the NFL with many teams protesting in their own way. Everybody has their own opinion, and we don’t necessarily know which view is correct. Many people say that by kneeling during The Star Spangled Banner you are disrespecting the men and women in the military, but was that really the intention? Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the National Anthem was an ethical, lawful, and respectful form of protest.

First of all, many people think that kneeling is a disrespectful gesture; however, throughout history kneeling has always been seen as a respectful gesture. For example, in Medieval times a peasant would kneel before the king and queen to show respect. If kneeling is a respectful gesture then, how is it unethical to kneel during the National Anthem? Eric Reid, a safety for the San Francisco 49ers, who knelt with Colin Kaepernick wrote, “We chose to kneel because it’s a respectful gesture. I remember thinking our posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy.” Reid explains that he was not trying to be disrespectful to the flag or to the soldiers, he was just trying to draw attention to racial and social injustice. He also says how kneeling is a respectful protest. Kneeling has historically been a sign of reverence; the players are still paying respect to the armed forces of America.

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Additionally, forced signs of patriotism are unconstitutional. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” This says that no law can be passed that prohibits free speech. Former Constitutional Law Professor and president, Barack Obama said of Kaepernick’s actions, “But my understanding, at least, is that is he’s exercising his constitutional right to make a statement.” Obama is saying that Kaepernick is entitled to his First Amendment rights. These quotes prove Colin Kaepernick and the other kneeling NFL players are not breaking the law. The First Amendment protects citizens’ right to freedom of speech. There is a reason why freedom of speech is the First Amendment of the Constitution and not the tenth. It is important to remember that peaceful protest is completely legal.

Many people believe that kneeling is disrespectful to the Armed Forces and to the American flag. Florida Congressman, veteran and double amputee, Brian Mast, said of Colin Kaepernick, “He’s divided us, he’s disrespected our flag,” The Congressman argues that Colin Kaepernick is disrespecting the flag and is dividing the country. In a survey conducted by CNN, 49% of Americans think that athletes are doing the wrong thing by kneeling during the National Anthem, and 49% of Americans think that the NFL should put rules in place to require players to stand during the Anthem. One can see that there are many people against the NFL kneeling during the National Anthem. However, a poll conducted by the Washington Examiner shows

62% of service members and veterans think NFL players have the right to protest during a game. This displays that most service members believe that players have the right to protest and are not being disrespectful to them. Even though many people are upset by the kneeling, the Armed Forces heavily favor the rights of the players to protest in their own ways.

Kneeling for The Star Spangled Banner is not disrespectful to the American flag or to the military. The First Amendment protects Americans’ right to peacefully protest. Kneeling is an honorable action of respect. Americans need to take advantage of our right to free speech when we feel there is injustice. If we stay silent, our voices will never be heard. Use whatever platform you have for good. Like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said,”There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” Choose America.

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Importance of First Amendment for Being American. (2022, March 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved October 6, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/importance-of-first-amendment-for-being-american/
“Importance of First Amendment for Being American.” Edubirdie, 18 Mar. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/importance-of-first-amendment-for-being-american/
Importance of First Amendment for Being American. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/importance-of-first-amendment-for-being-american/> [Accessed 6 Oct. 2022].
Importance of First Amendment for Being American [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Mar 18 [cited 2022 Oct 6]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/importance-of-first-amendment-for-being-american/
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