Nothing annoys me more than people who disrespect the military. It really isn't always their fault, though. Many people are just generally unaware of how much servicemen and servicewomen sacrifice for us, the general civilian public, so they don't understand what they are degrading.
However, that does not lessen the bitterness that people who associate a flag with fallen brothers and sisters in arms and family feel when people kneel for and generally disrespect the flag. To them, kneeling for and disrespecting the flag is not just a protest against the nation and its ill actions, but rather a disrespect for the lives lost defending that flag and its rights.
My issue is not with the reason for the protest, rather it is with the unintended consequences.
I am POSITIVE that those who kneel during the National Anthem in front of the flag and disrespect it have never seen one being presented to the weeping family of a dead soldier. They have never stood at a funeral and heard "Taps" being played by fellow servicemen. They have never felt a 21-gun salute rattle their bones.
My first semester at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, I was blessed with being able to work on a project concerning PTSD in veterans and possible solutions to this widespread reaction. I was blessed enough to be able to interview active and retired service members with PTSD or that have experience with PTSD. Talking to them was the most eye-opening experience I have ever had. I listened to their harrowing stories from their conflicts while deployed and their struggles once they returned home.
I was completely moved not only by their bravery and resilience but also by their unwavering willingness to return in a heartbeat to defend those back in the States. They even explicitly mentioned returning to defend those who had views different than theirs, especially concerning this kneeling matter, solely because freedom of speech and expression are two of the essential pillars the USA was built upon.
The issue is most people don't understand what the flag really means. It’s easy to view it simplistically and say that when one kneels for the flag they are just kneeling to show their revolt for the general mistreatment of their race by the nation. However, they do not realize that to the large military population of the USA it means much more. It means that you are disregarding their friends who gave the ultimate sacrifice and the families that have received a folded flag in remembrance of their deceased loved ones.
I understand your right to peacefully protest, and I support that right, just as those who are, have been and will be overseas support that right. That’s why they signed up. They want to give all of us that are privileged enough to be citizens of the USA the opportunity to do whatever we want within humane limits. And that includes the right to peacefully protest. Anything.
However, I personally will never partake in this form of protest regardless of how strongly I feel for the cause behind it because I cannot support actions that hurt those who have given their all for us.