Military Vet Pens Essay on NFL Anthem Kneeling Protests

by Chris Haney
Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

A military veteran has penned an open letter to the Star Tribune on NFL protests during the national anthem. Mark Dvorak, the Minnesota commander for the American Legion, disagrees with the way NFL players are protesting. Dvorak says “it should be a time for unity, not differences.”

Dvorak says the intent of the essay is to “explain why the playing of our national anthem should not be the time nor place for kneeling or other forms of protest.”

The commander thinks the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” is intended as an expression of unity. And that it is a ceremonial moment when we can be one United States of America.

Commander Dvorak Explains NFL Protest Stance

Dvorak goes into the history that ties the anthem to sporting events in our country. He says it dates back to Game 1 of the 1918 World Series in Chicago. World War I had taken nearly 100,000 American lives, and a deadly bomb in Chicago had just killed four people. Dvorak said, “Then as now, America was in turmoil.”

The Chicago Cubs chose to play “The Star-Spangled Banner” as a sign of unity. Furthermore, the practice of playing it before sporting events became increasingly popular, especially during World War II.

As Dvorak says, “this solemn time allows us to reflect and put away our differences.”

However, it hurts veterans to see the national anthem, a symbol of unity, politicized.

“So many of us have risked our lives,” Dvorak said. “And so many others have died for this country, so that we may secure the blessings of liberty – such as free speech. We aren’t opposed to improving the lives of America’s people, no matter their race, ethnicity, gender or politics. Veterans served beside fellow Americans of all backgrounds and were willing to die for them.”

“Wear whichever message you wish to convey,” he said. “Support whichever cause you believe in. Push for change. That’s America.”

“But, for brief moments in our lives, let’s recognize that there have been brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, mothers and fathers, grandfathers and grandmothers, sons and daughters, who have given their lives for this nation. Respecting the flag respects them,” concludes Dvorak’s statement.

Read the full essay HERE.

[H/T Star Tribune]