Vernon Vine

Freedom or Loyalty?

Jeb Stuart football and cheer team kneeling during the National Anthem

photo via twitter

Jeb Stuart football and cheer team kneeling during the National Anthem

Mina Butt and Josh Henry, Editors

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courtesy of Mount Vernon boosters
Coach Fritts giving a performance review to the team after a tough game.

With a country as patriotic as the U.S, it is expected that most Americans familiarize themselves with and memorize our national anthem. We play this song at public gatherings and sports events to instill the values of a patriotic and loyal nation. Therefore, any sign of protest towards the anthem is widely viewed as controversial and disrespectful.

However, how can America dismiss the protests of The Star-Spangled Banner if most Americans are unaware of the full song? A majority of Americans are familiar with the first verse of The Star-Spangled Banner, but a large amount of our population is ignorant regarding the last 3 verses of this song. Many individuals interpret the third verse of the song to be racist and degrading towards African Americans.

The 3rd verse states that:

No refuge could save the hireling and slave

From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,

And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

People have stated that this verse celebrates the deaths of African Americans who decided to fight for the British army, instead of the American army.  It is referring to the regiment known as The Colonial Marines and Francis Scott Key is describing what will happen to them for betraying their country, a country that enslaved them.

With this in mind, those who are aware of this racist verse believe that it is morally correct to protest the national anthem.

Although, there are other reasons why individuals have begun to protest The Star Spangled Banner. People have begun to protest the anthem in order to bring attention to police brutality and racial inequality.

Protests of the national anthem became notable after Colin Kaepernick, currently a free agent, started protesting the Anthem in 2016. The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback did research on the “Star Spangled Banner” and found things almost everybody is blinded by. He found the third verse, the one nobody speaks about or seems to care about. He made a decision to utilize the song to protest the mistreatment of blacks in the U.S., specifically the brutality used against them by law enforcement.

During an NFL game, Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem. The stands full of fans, his team, and his coaches all looked at him differently. They saw disrespect in Kaepernick’s eyes. Once the coaches saw Kaepernick take a knee, they immediately took him off the team, and sent him to become a free agent.

When he became a free agent, no coaches wanted to pick him up because of the “disrespectful” thing he did. The only thing Kaepernick was doing was exercising his 1st Amendment: Freedom of Speech; but people failed to realize that. The only thing they perceive is Kaepernick being disrespectful to the people that served in the army, and disrespectful to the flag, but what people don’t get is that, not only did the army fight for us, they were also fighting for our rights, including the right to protest.

And protesting was all Kaepernick was doing, in order to draw attention to what he considered an important and pertinent cause. Then President Donald Trump stepped in and suggested Kaepernick should be fired, as should anyone else who disrespects the United States.

Kaepernick stated in one interview, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people, and people of color.”

Although, in recent events, NFL protests have become widespread in response to President Donald Trump’s tweet, writing that any player who refused to stand for Anthem should be fired. It is assumed that he wrote the tweet to prevent kneeling during the anthem. However, his tweet had the opposite effect; many people were offended by his tweet, and instead came to together to rally against current injustices by doing the very thing he said not to: kneel or link arms during the song.

Because of this, protesting the anthem has become somewhat accepted.

Nonetheless, the subject is still very controversial. Many individuals believe that protesting the anthem is the guaranteed right to freedom of speech. Furthermore, protesters believe that it is not disrespectful towards the military because the military fights to protect our rights, and one of our arguably most important rights is freedom of speech.

“I don’t care and I don’t think anyone else should care either, “ stated by Sameer Islam, a student at MVHS

On the other hand, other individuals view the protesting of the anthem as unpatriotic and disrespectful towards the flag.

Mount Vernon’s own Coach Fritts said,

Pullquote Photo

I think we can find ways to protest social injustice and help others in need without disrespecting the flag.”

— Coach M. Fritts

He went on to question if the silent protest has really changed anything: “…are the cops more respectful to young men of color? Or are people even more upset?” He concluded saying, “I vote to unify, not divide.”

However, some of the individuals arguing this point may appear to others as being hypocritical, and here’s why:

According to the U.S flag code, the flag should never be worn as apparel, the flag should never be used for advertisement purposes, the flag should never be embroidered on articles of clothing,  the flag should never be impressed on material designed for temporary use and discard, and much more.

The flag code is violated on a daily basis; therefore, if individuals discourage the protesting of the anthem because it is disrespectful towards the flag, then they should take action to make sure the flag code is enforced on a daily basis.

The debate on protesting the national anthem is still ongoing and some people are wondering whether or not high school sports should start taking a stance on this subject.

In fact, some high schools have already declared their stance on protests toward the anthem. A school in Long Island, NY, has declared that any players who kneels during the anthem will face serious disciplinary action.

Fortunately, other high schools are of different beliefs. For example, Jeb Stuart high school allows their players to fight for what they believe in. Jeb Stuart’s entire football and cheer leading team kneeled during the anthem in 2016.

photo via twitter
Jeb Stuart football and cheer team kneeling during the National Anthem

Should more high schools, including Mount Vernon, take a stance on this issue?  




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11 Responses to “Freedom or Loyalty?”

  1. Laura Schmechel on October 17th, 2017 6:55 pm

    This was a very well written article. I love the fact that they show both sides of the argument, but still prove a point. Using quotes and examples are very important for a good article, and I really appreciate it. This article helped inform me on some things going on in the USA, for example, I did not know there was a third verse. It is very helpful.

  2. NFN Khafia on October 18th, 2017 10:21 am

    Freedom or Loyalty is a wonderful article.I loved the article and the way they talk about the problems going in the U.S.It gives us the information which lot of people have lack of knowledge about it with some examples and specific about everything.E.g lot of people don’t know even i don’t that anthem has third verse and its meaning.Many people don’t know national anthem meaning and importance to know it to show loyalty towards the country.Many protests are going on also just because on issue of anthem and whether should high schools take stance on this subject or not.Also,there is problem that kneeling during anthem would cause disciplinary action against that person.

  3. Michael Chandler on October 18th, 2017 10:23 am

    I think this was very insightful to the future of America in the star spangled banner. Coach Fritz gave nice information and a good point of view of how we shouldn’t give a bad name to our nations flag. Though this was a very nice quote, i’m not sure if the way it was presented was praising it to much.

  4. Christina Ha on October 18th, 2017 10:29 am

    This article brings up an interesting issue. I didn’t even realize that there was a 3rd verse in the Star Spangled Banner. Especially since it’s interpreted as racist and we don’t really sing it. The article has lots of evidence and instances mentioned, which really pulls the story together. The quote from Coach Fritts was simply the cherry on top of the whole article sundae. Keep up the good work Vernon Vine Crew!

  5. Alexis Wankowski on October 18th, 2017 11:03 am

    I really enjoyed reading this article. I learned that there was a third verse to the Star-Spangled Banner. In my personal opinion I believe that people don’t have stand pledge during the national anthem. I also believe that people can kneel during the national anthem, because they have the right to. The article does a good job showing both sides of it, while still proving a point.

  6. Sena Deressa on October 18th, 2017 9:59 pm

    This article was really intriguing as it brought up a debatable issue in the US today. I really never knew that 3rd verse to “The Star Slangled Banner” which was quite frightening. People lack knowledge on issues in America today even though it affects them daily. This article does it for them. It was a very thoroughly written article giving just enough information on this one topic. Keep up the great work you guys!!!

  7. Emmy Rivas on October 19th, 2017 5:53 am

    This was a very well written article. the fact that they showed both sides of the argument, is amazing because they had proof to back them up. Using quotes and examples are very important for a strong article. This article helped inform me on some things going on in the USA, for example, I did not know there was a third verse. This article gave me knowledge in which I didn’t know and proves that many people, including me have lack of knowledge. Overall, this article deserves a gold medal for informing us about our sad truth, the lack of knowledge but it was amazing.

  8. Max Fisher on October 19th, 2017 11:38 am

    The story is great, but the article doesn’t fully take advantage of it. I don’t think that the third verse has anything at all to do with this issue. As stated in the article, most people are unaware of it anyways. This makes protesting the national anthem for a part that has been effectively removed not make any sense. Other than that the story is good.

  9. Louise Byrne on October 22nd, 2017 8:08 pm

    I loved reading this article. I think you did a good job of including all of the facts about this news story without bias or leaving out relevant facts. I never knew there was a third verse to the national anthem and I though this was all a police brutality movement. I like that you included people’s opinions and kept them relevant to the story. I think it’s so important for people to stay informed! Keep up the good work!

  10. Habibi #2 on November 2nd, 2017 2:31 pm

    Bery Gud. Will red again 🙂

  11. Jeff Goodman on December 1st, 2017 10:01 am

    i like this article it was well written

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Freedom or Loyalty?