I support protest by NFL players but they shouldn’t desecrate anthem

Dear Editor,

Reference is made to President Donald Trump who criticized NFL players who engaged in pre-game protests — across the league knelt, locked arms, raised their fists and even refused to come out of the locker room during the national anthem.

As a veteran, I have mixed feelings about the players not standing up for the national anthem because I have tremendous respect for it.  I disagree with President Trump, I don’t believe that the NFL players intended to disrespect the national anthem or insult veterans.

Editor, after 26 years of military service, I still get goosebumps hearing the national anthem. The national anthem means so much to me. Hearing it, reminds me of our  fallen warriors. As an American, it reminds me of the freedoms that I cherish. As a Guyanese, it reminds me of the many opportunities it offers to immigrants.

As a combat veteran, it reminds me of the sacrifice of so many soldiers. To me, the national anthem is sacred, and I want to honour it that is why I stand.  It’s why I fought. Hence, I love and cherish the anthem.

Editor, I’ll never forget an experience in Afghanistan when one of our warriors died. On that dark, dark day, I was watching the funeral procession of the fallen soldier. He was being escorted to the plane to be evacuated to America to be laid to rest in peace.  I can still hear the sweetest music in my ears, head, heart and mind. The music being played was the Star-Spangled banner/national anthem.

These were the words that I remember: “And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof thro’ the night that our flag was still there.. O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Editor, on that dreadful day, there were no rockets or bombs bursting in the air, our flag was there covering the deceased’s coffin and the brave were there fighting to keep us free. Hence, the land remains free because of the brave.

The national anthem, made the ceremony a very moving and sacred experienced.

So Editor, I find it hard not to stand up for the national anthem when it means and cost me so much to this day.

On the other hand Editor, I’m personally afraid of some police officers doing harm to  my children. I don’t like it that I have to teach my children to be extremely careful when a police officer stops them while  driving because of racial profiling and discrimination.

Editor, I support the protest against police brutality. But I just wish that the NFL players can find another way to protest against police brutality and not desecrate the national anthem.

Yours faithfully,

Anthony Pantlitz

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