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Letter: There’s a time for silence and a time for speaking up

There’s a time for silence and a time for speaking up

I have a suggestion that might appeal to both sides of the controversy about athletes kneeling during the national anthem.

First, a bit of background. I attended the Bills-Broncos game. I sat during the anthem. I had no intention of being disrespectful, but when the announcer said, “to honor America, please rise,” all I could think of was Nazis marching across the University of Virginia campus, chanting racist slogans and threatening minority students, and President Trump claiming that they were “some very fine people.” My father drove a tank across Germany to help defeat the Nazis. My father-in-law was in the second wave of soldiers on Normandy. To me, the neo-Nazis threaten the values that we fought for in World War II. The thought of “honoring” those people and the president who defended them was abhorrent to me.

I certainly would welcome an opportunity to honor our fighting men and women without also pretending that all is right in our country. Therefore, I suggest that the announcer should say, “to honor our veterans and members of our armed forces, please rise for the national anthem.” Directing the honors at those who defend our freedoms is, I am sure, something we all can agree on. My guess is that the players and their supporters can devise an alternate form of silent protest against the racial attitudes that are poisoning public discourse.

I love this country, and I am grateful that I am free to speak out against injustice. But to be silent at this moment in history is to acquiesce in the wrong people’s definition of who we are.

Joe Gerken


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