A “Peaceful Protest” For Our Anthem

Dean Stanley, Opinion Writer

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Before playing in the NFL, Anthony Villanueva was an Army Ranger.

Last Sunday, Sept. 24, there was an event that happened at a football game.  

The Pittsburgh Steelers NFL team was not present on the playing field at Soldier Field in Chicago. The Steelers followed their coach’s direction and stayed in visitors’ locker room. 

All the Steelers did, except one.  

Alejandro Villanueva stood at the entrance of the tunnel during the national anthem alone. Villanueva, who recently served as an Army Ranger, who’d received the Bronze Star in Afghanistan, held his hand over his heart. Though some of his teammates likely would have decided not to stand for anthem, Villanueva did what he felt was best.  

While a lot of attention has been devoted to an athlete who doesn’t play in the NFL anymore, I think, based on my own belief, not standing for the anthem does not show any respect for the many men and women who have died for that flag and their families.  

What Alejandro Villanueva did also was a “peaceful protest.” Although the Steeler put his team in an awkward place by standing alone, Villanueva is entitled to do what he feels is right – which I fully agree with here. He stood out of respect. You should stand out of respect.   

President Trump tweeted that if players don’t 100 percent participate in the national anthem that they should be fired. Alejandro Villanueva is now seen as someone who represents an opposing view to protesters, an anti-Colin Kaepernick. That wasn’t his intention. Still, Villanueva has become a social media meme.

I agree with Villanueva’s choice to stand for the anthem. I believe he was doing what was right. There’s never anything wrong with your beliefs if you respect others and you don’t disrespect another’s beliefs or religious practices.

The national anthem protesters are silent. They are peacefully protesting. The protesters are not in the wrong. They can kneel or remain seated.

Like the Steelers might have learned last Sunday, we must learn how to respect each other’s believes.

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