Why I Stand For The National Anthem
FlaglerLive | September 10, 2016
By Patrick Juliano
We’ve been inundated by stories of certain professional sport athletes who feel the need to protest the playing of the National Anthem. More of the same was scheduled for Sunday as members of the Miami Dolphins and Seattle Seahawks planned unspecified team-wide protest.
This Sunday is also the 15th Anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I read an article quoting an athlete saying he didn’t care what day it was, he was going to protest anyway.
So how much weight should we give free speech? Should it be limited, censored or punished? Do we compromise the integrity of our Constitution because a sports athlete lacks tact or respect?
I believe the answer is No. The free speech of ordinary citizens should never be censored or punished. But in these situations, athletes who claim injustice are not ordinary citizens. They’re paid professionals who are using their employers’ time, resources and network exposure—negotiated by those employers with television networks–to promote their personal agenda.Think hard: If you caused a protest at you place of employment, would you still have a job the next day? Regardless of the issue, would you as a business owner allow the business or brand you built to be compromised or possibly demolished because an employee is protesting one issue or another that has nothing to do with your business?
In the anthem controversy, NFL athletes are receiving the sort of compensation packages from professional sports teams and sponsors that places them among the world’s top earners. They’re paid and recognized for their performance–in the sports arena. Their job is to play football. Yet these well paid athletes believe it’s right for them to use their position enabled by their employer to promote their own narcissistic view. Because they are so important, they’re telling the world, the world must take notice.
On this 15th Anniversary of 9/11, where is the outrage and sense of injustice for the families of the 2,976 innocent lives taken that day? Or the outrage that thousands have terminal diseases from exposure to the toxins of the buildings’ collapse? The outrage that so many first-responders died trying to save others, or that those who survived dug through rubble to find victims or what little remains could be found? Where is the outage for the families who, left at best with a piece of clothing, a helmet or a dusty relic that may or may not have belong to their loved one, will never have the opportunity to lay their loved one to rest, and so never get closure?
People I know and care about every year must go and track their medical disease. They suffer from PTSD, cancer, cardiac and respiratory diseases. But no outrage, no protests, no sit-ins before games. We asked our first responders to answer the calls for help. They answered. Many died answering the call. Many are surviving in agony, yet we are abandoning them when they need us the most.
I am no one important. My voice will never be heard, other than by those who choose to read this. My outrage at the blatant disrespect will never be given a moment’s thought. Yet an over paid, under-achieving bench warmer who decided to sit during the National Anthem gets prime-time coverage and news-cycle saturation attention. Other athletes are apparently planning to do likewise, attracted as they may be by the attention.
These athletes are no different than those who abuse the privilege of office. These athletes are not like you and me. They are rich, famous and consider themselves entitled. Their opinions carry more weight because of their profession and the enormous attention we give sports as a nation. But they don’t value the power of their speech. They’re not weighing their actions. They’re not putting thought before action. They’re acting out on their employers’ stage and clothing their act in the sort of importance that misses the point, especially when their acts coincide with 9/11. They are spoiled, narcissistic, elitists pandering for media attention, and they are rewarded with it. Do you truly believe they care one bit about the injustices they claim to be protesting?I feel I must stand up and do what is right. On 9/11, innocent lives were taken because they were American. 9/11 is more than a day in the history books. It’s a day I lost friends and neighbors, a day I watched neighbors come home off the train covered in dust, dazed, shattered, lost, a day my community mourned and began to understand. Millions have fought for the freedom and defense of this country, so we may enjoy the inalienable rights endowed to us by our Creator.
For this, I stand.
On 9/11, I will exercise my free speech and stand for our National Anthem. I owe that to the 2,976 innocent lives murdered in New York, at the Pentagon and on Flight 93, these honored dead to whom we owe our devotion, these honored dead who gave the last full measure of sacrifice. We owe them at least that much, so they will not have died in vain.
There is moral outrage. I am outraged. But the outrage should be directed at those who have taken for granted the liberty and privilege of being a professional athlete by showing disrespect to our National Anthem by way of protest. That’s not protesting. It’s stomping on graves, on memories and on the flag.
On this Sunday as some infamous sport athletes defame our flag and national remembrance, keep the families of those who were lost in your hearts, thoughts and prayers. May God Bless the victims, responders, families and loved ones of those affected by 9/11.
May God Bless our US military forces, blue star and gold star families who stand in readiness and perseverance for the defense and safety of this great nation. May God Bless the United States of America.
Below is the Flag of Honor, containing the names of all 2,976 innocent lives taken on 9/11.
Patrick Juliano, a native of Tuckahoe, N.Y., is a former Palm Coast firefighter and a member of Coastal Florida Police & Fire Pipes & Drums. He lives in Palm Coast.”