Kneeling For The Star Spangled Banner

Kneeling For The Star Spangled Banner

There is a lot of controversy

There has been a lot of fuss over the NFL games starting on September 24, 2017, specifically with the way players were treating the national anthem.

Many players, during the national anthem, were kneeling in protest. It started with Colin Kaepernick, a NFL player for the 49ers, who started kneeling to protest racial inequality and police brutality. Since then, several other players have knelt in support of Kaepernick, but there was an increase in kneeling players during Sunday’s Star Spangled Banner in response to Donald Trump’s reaction to the protest.

Donald Trump tweeted “If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!” He believes that the players who kneel during the national anthem should be suspended or fired, and after expressing this belief to the public, 200 NFL players took a knee during the national anthem on Sunday. This, of course, started a huge debate. Is it disrespectful to kneel during the national anthem? And what does the national anthem represent?

One side of the argument says that it is a sign of disrespect because our veterans fought for our freedom. Our veterans fought for our right to kneel, and some lost their lives for that freedom, so we need to stand for the injured veterans and the ones who lost their lives fighting. The other side of the argument says that we have a freedom of speech, that includes freedom of symbolic speech, and we have a right to protest. Before this protest, kneeling was seen as a sign of respect. Players take a knee when someone gets hurt, people kneel to pray, and so on. Others believe the NFL players who knelt on Sunday were just protesting Trump himself.

When he started protesting, Kaepernick said: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color...” He was showing his support for the Black Lives Matter movement going on, but some argue that there is a time and place for that and it’s not when we are saluting our flag. I guess it depends on what you believe the flag stands for. Some believe it represents veterans and all who fight for our freedom. Some believe it represents this country as a whole.

Before Kaepernick started kneeling for the national anthem, he sat. According to CNN “It was [Nate] Boyer who helped him [the quarterback of the 49ers] and his teammates come to the decision to kneel, a more respectful option. Kaepernick was on board” ( Nate Boyer was a former NFL player and an Army Veteran himself. Whether you think it is disrespectful or not, the NFL players kneeling during the national anthem got the attention they wanted.

All opinions aside, I believe everyone has a right to their opinion, and I encourage you to be open-minded about the each side of the argument no matter where you stand. Ask someone who thinks differently from you what they think and why.

Don’t let this divide our country apart more than it already is.

Cover Image Credit: Kevin Morris

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A Long Forgotten Dream

I think about this every day.

When I was thirteen years old there were a couple of places you could find me. School, a dance studio, and running around with my brothers. Dancing was the one joy I truly had for many years. I found joy in performance and I found a sense of pride in myself when I learned step after step. Although I was disciplined in many types of dance I found the greatest joy in tap. Tap dancing was the one style I felt the freest performing. Learning every single step and move I could articulate with my feet brought me a great sense of joy and pride within myself.

At the age of fourteen, my tap dancing capabilities began to accelerate to that of seniors in high school and collegiate age performers. Dance teachers complimented my skill and pushed me to continue pursuing this style of dance as they insisted that I could go very far in the world with this one style of dance. More times than not, they all began to insist that I could go on to perform tap dancing professionally.

All of these compliments came one year after my world of dance came tumbling down. At thirteen years old, I had a dance teacher tell me that I was never going to amount to anything in the world of dance and that I should just give up because of my body shape and my weight. I now sit here at twenty-two, almost twenty-three years old and I now can tell you that giving up tap dancing was one of the biggest mistakes I ever made. Tap was an escape into rhythm and movement that many people did not understand. Tap did not require me to dress indecently. It allowed me to be a teenager and dress as a teenager should be allowed to dress when competitively dancing, modestly.

I let go of my anger and resentment towards this dance instructor many years ago. She owns a successful studio in Springfield and has created an army of dancers many of which have become professionals within the dance industry. I credit her for continuing her business. However, I will tell you that if your body type is not lean and slender, you are treated as an odd duck. Also, if you do not come from what she considers a wealthy family, you are a problem to her.

For a long period of time, this studio owner hired a woman I knew by Miss Laura. Miss Laura was the main tap instructor and she had a huge role in my success for a short period of time. She was someone that my mother and I could talk to comfortably without any judgment. She made me feel as if I was extremely valuable even though I was not competing in every style of dance because the studio owner said I wasn't "good enough" to be in every dance routine but I was well qualified to tap dance. So I tapped, and tapped, and tapped. I absorbed every piece of information Laura gave to me. She was my mentor and confidant that I found within this dance studio. She pushed me to my ends and made me have more skill than I could've ever imagined.

Now I go to the movies and see things like "The Greatest Showman" and I often get sad. I had instructor after instructor tell me that my tap dancing could've carried me to a professional level. As unrealistic of a career path that would've been, I think it would've been a dream job. I would've been in amazing shape, following a dream that young Amanda had, and I would've proven so many people wrong.

I don't talk about this dream I once had because everyone knows me as the "color guard girl" in college. Color guard is what filled the void once I gave up dancing. It allowed me to perform and immerse myself in newer equipment pieces and always have a reason to challenge myself.

This was a dream that I had as a young girl. A dream that was innocent and full of hope. A dream that many people have been able to acheive because they were able to push past many critics. I, however, lost that dream. A dream I regret ever letting slip through my fingers. From time to time, I still slip on my tap shoes and an immediate grin emerges from my face. I feel as free and happy as I did at fourteen years old. Do not ever let someone take away your dream. If you do, you may end up like me at twenty two and reminscing on what could have been.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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15 Inspirational Quotes From Martin Luther King Jr. For ANY Day Of The Year

Not just for MLK day, but every day.

MLK was known for his voice and leadership during a time of sacrifice. His words encouraging love and activism still apply to life today. 50 years after his death, we can still hear this quotes read in MLK's voice

1. "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'"

2. "I have decided to stick to love. Hate is too great a burden to bear."

3. "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

4. "We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies."

5. "The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important."

6. "Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal"

7. "The ultimate tragedy is not oppression and cruelty by bad people, but the silence over that by good people."

8. "An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all of humanity."

9. "There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love."

10. "Every man must decide whether we will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness."

11. "If man has not discovered something he will die for, he isn’t fit to live."

12. “Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The method of such is the method of love."

13. “Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.”

14. "If I can not do great things, I can do small things in a great way"

15. "Darkness can not drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate can not drive out hate; only love can do that."

Cover Image Credit: wikimedia commons

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