To Kneel Or Not To Kneel? Part 1

Written and Media by Tymber Gabbert.

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” – Abraham Lincoln

Racial inequality. Gender inequality. Freedom of Speech. These are the claims individuals are making as to why kneeling during the playing of the national anthem at sporting events has become a norm. Yes, these issues exist and we as citizens of the United States of America have the right of Freedom of Speech to voice our opinions over these issues. But, is kneeling really making a difference? Is this really what the Founding Fathers had in mind when the First Amendment was put into place?

The USA starting XI sing their national anthem
The USA starting XI sing their national anthem. Image from


As a collegiate athlete, it hurts to see fellow athletes kneel during a time of appreciation for our country. I believe kneeling during the national anthem is doing nothing for the issues at hand and is the completely wrong way to go about the situation.

It is disgraceful to the country.

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First and foremost, in order to fully understand the attack on the national anthem, we must understand the purpose and meaning behind the national anthem. “The Star Spangled Banner” was written by poet Francis Scott Key after the American victory over the British at Fort McHenry in 1812. Not until March 3, 1931, did “The Star-Spangled Banner” become recognized as the United States national anthem (Klein, 2014). Now, let’s take a step back and take a minute to understand the purpose and meaning of a national anthem. “…national anthems have truly only one purpose, to instill patriotism and nationalism in citizens during a time of need” (Perry). In other words, the playing of the national anthem is a chance for Americans to show respect for the nation they are a part of and to promote hope, courage, and unity. After understanding this information and the purpose of the anthem, it is safe to assume that kneeling during a time to appreciate the foundation of your country and the sacrifices made to protect the rights of the citizens of that country is a shame to your nation as a whole.

It is disrespectful to our service men and women.

Image by Tymber Gabbert

Not only is kneeling during the national anthem disgraceful to the country, it also shows a huge amount of disrespect to those individuals who put their lives on the line every day to grant us our rights as Americans.  As Americans, we are granted the right to Freedom of Speech as is stated in the First Amendment. The fact that individuals are using that right to stand against those who give up their lives to grant us freedom is hypocritical. The playing of the national anthem gives us the opportunity to stop for a second and remember all of those brave people who have given their lives to present us the freedoms we take for granted every day. Not only does it target the individuals who fight overseas so we don’t have to see the brutalities of war, but it also disrespects the police officers who keep us safe on the streets, the firefighters that rush into our homes, the paramedics who give every last effort they have to save us when our lives are on the line. The patch that is sewn onto their shoulders is more than a flag to them, it’s a lifestyle. It is a symbol that represents the freedoms they are fighting for. If we want to make a difference and use the rights this wonderful country has granted us, why don’t we do something that will actually unify us for a common purpose rather than tear us apart?

There is a lack of action.

As a college student going into the world of business management, it has been pounded into my head over and over that, in order to create a successful marketing plan, you must first create awareness and then you must take action. I see a lot of awareness being raised over this issue, but what is going to be done about it now? Colin Kaepernick first brought our attention to the idea of kneeling during the national anthem as a means to draw attention to the racial inequalities present in the United States. But how is kneeling going to fix that? Kaepernick did not fully develop a plan before diving into this issue in an attempt to make a difference. Sure, he may have raised awareness on the issue, but what good does raising awareness do if there isn’t a plan put in place to fix the issue? Why has he chosen a medium that divides the country rather than unifies it?

As an American, you have been granted the freedom to voice your opinion freely. So next time you decide you want to make a difference and kneel during the national anthem, think of all of the Americans that have given up their lives to give you the freedoms you have today. Think of all the families that have lost brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, husbands, and wives. Think of what the national anthem means to the ones who have given everything they have for this country. What kind of a message are you sending them when you kneel for the anthem?

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” – Ronald Reagan

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The gist of “The Star Spangled Banner” is simply to show gratitude for the existence of our country and the relief that there are individuals willing to fight for our freedom. If those who choose to kneel during the national anthem don’t agree with those sentiments, then I challenge them to go and find a nation that treats them better than the one that has granted them freedom, the one they are disrespecting.

But that’s just one opinion. How are you going to make a difference?

“If we love our country, we should also love our countrymen.” – Ronald Reagan

As there are varying opinions on this subject, Taylor Kauffman will give his contrasting point of view next week in “To Kneel Or Not To Kneel? Part 2”.


  1. Well said. They for sure need to find a different avenue to express their protest. Disrespecting our country, flag and those who fought for our freedom is not the way. It just makes things worse by causing more division among all Americans.

  2. Thank you very much for taking time and articulating very well the same feelings and thoughts we have. We realize this is a difficult subject, and takes courage to even write, but your statement,”If we want to make a difference and use the rights this wonderful country has granted us, why don’t we do something that will actually unify us for a common purpose rather than tear us apart?” really sets the tone for the heart of the issue. Again, thank you!

  3. You did a wonderful job pointing out the fact of what this action represents. When you kneel at the National Anthem not only are you disrespecting the Flag, our Troops, our Vets, and America as a whole, you are also disrespecting yourselves. Take a walk through Arlington Cemetery and see how you feel then, I’m pretty sure you will feel a chill to your bones!

  4. This is a thoughtful & well written article. I think those of us so upset by the kneeling feel it is a slap in the face of all who have served to ensure our freedom, including the freedom to kneel. Kneeling really does nothing to solve the problem, and yes our country has plenty of problems. I want to read the next article also.

  5. I love, love, love this article and I think it needs published not only in the Papyrus, but everywhere! Thank you for your research and talent with words. I can tell it comes from your heart and with love instead of anger/hate. As a mom who’s son served in Afghanistan, the Nation Anthen now has a whole new meaning to our family. Thanks again! I have no doubt you will be successful in all areas of your life because you “get it”!

    Cristy Willman, Greenville

  6. I am a GC parent. I am so upset by the students who choose to kneel for the very reasons you have stated. Thank you for stepping forward and speaking up.


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