Military protocol when the U.S. flag is present, during public performance of the national anthem, is that active military members must stand at attention and salute the flag if serving as honor guard.
Citizens standing at attention, removing hats, or placing hands on hearts are customs and traditions that have evolved over time.*
The President has started yet another divisive controversy, pitting citizens against citizens. His tweet that people who kneel during the national anthem are not patriotic deepens an unhealthy division within our country. Tweeting that the NFL should require players to stand during the national anthem adds fuel to the fire.
Why is kneeling less patriotic than standing? Players taking a knee demonstrate their desire to improve our country by calling attention to discrimination. Who writes these patriotism rules anyway? Certainly not politicians or presidents.
Every day, citizens practice patriotism in unique and individual ways: Treating each other with respect as equals; paying their taxes; being PTA members, teachers, volunteers, state legislators, or clergy members; or serving in the military. In other words, a patriot is anyone who loves this country and who works to make it better. Patriotic examples are as varied as our populace.
The President and his believers choose their patriotism. But violating a citizen’s right to free speech flies in the face of patriotism.
Please stop this needless divisiveness over who is or who is not a patriot. We all are.
*See http://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?path=/prelim@title36/subtitle1/partA/chapter3&edition=prelim, section 301, National Anthem for the guidelines on conduct during the playing of the national anthem.