On 9/11, of all days, there were some who wanted to dictate what’s “appropriate” when it comes to respecting this country. Who decided symbols are more important than what they actually represent.
On this day, of all days, there were those who would rather make a mockery of our freedom by insisting we all act and think as one than allow people to actually exercise our most cherished rights.
On this day, of all days.
For those indignant that Marcus Peters raised a fist and four Miami Dolphins took a knee for the national anthem on what has become our most somber day, for those who have railed against Colin Kaepernick these past two weeks, remember this: the terrorists behind 9/11 tried to do by violence what some Americans would now do by shame.
“They say it’s not the time to this, but when is the time?” Dolphins running back Arian Foster said after Sunday’s game in Seattle. “It’s never the time in somebody else’s eyes. … That’s the great thing about this country. If somebody feels it’s not good enough they have that right.”
The foundation of this country demands that we think for ourselves so we never again have to bow to anyone — not a God, not a king, and certainly not the bullies who mistake blind loyalty or resentful silence for patriotism.
The freedoms that make the United States, even with its flaws, the greatest country in the world, do not exist in a vacuum. When we disagree, when we see our great country falling short or failing its own, it is our civic duty to speak up — even if the timing is less than ideal and the method makes some uncomfortable.
“We encourage all members of our organization to stand at attention during the national anthem out of respect and appreciation for the freedoms we are afforded as Americans,” the Dolphins said in a statement after four players took a knee during The Star-Spangled Banner.
“We also recognize it’s an individual’s right to reflect during the anthem in different ways. We respect those liberties and appreciate the sacrifices that everyone has made for our country, especially on this day of remembrance,” the Dolphins added. “We hope today’s events will continue a respectful and thoughtful dialogue in our community on unity, inclusiveness and togetherness.”
The idea of what is patriotic and what is considered respectful has been a loaded one since Kaepernick’s observance of the national anthem came to light. Despite his insistence that he meant no disrespect for the military, some have chosen to take it that way.
It was sure to be even more charged Sunday, with the 15th anniversary of 9/11 falling on the first weekend of the season.
Peters and the Dolphins players stood during the 9/11 observance shown in all stadiums. Their signs of protest came after, during the anthem, a nuance that is sure to be lost on those who criticize them. They did not disrespect those who lost their lives 15 years ago and, even when they raised a fist or took a knee, they did not disrespect those who served or their country, either.
Freedom and the American ideals of democracy are not easy. If they were, every country would have them. It is easy to defend our rights and our freedoms when it’s convenient and much harder — and far more important — to do when it is not.
On this day, of all days, we should remember that.
By Nancy Armour
This article was republished with permission from the original author and 2015 Ronald Reagan Media Award recipient, Nancy Armour, and the original publisher, USA Today. Follow columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.