The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

Take a knee, or don’t

Isabel Chiodo

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   It doesn’t take a genius to know that a significant number of appalling events are going on in the world right now. From deadly earthquakes to hurricanes and terrorist attacks, these incidents are tearing up many parts of the planet.

   The United States, on the other hand, is arguing about its flag—and kneeling before it.

I personally see the flag as a tribute to the freedom of our country and the soldiers who fight for it, so I will always stand. But others disagree.

   Some people have been, or feel they have been, harmed by this country, making them not want to stand up and sing to the flag. The beautiful part about America is that either is okay.

   When I was in the seventh grade, my English teacher sat down while we said the Pledge of Allegiance every day. She did not let us talk about it or even let us ask about the reasoning behind her decision—it was her personal choice and we had to respect that.

   At the end of the year, she told us her actions were due to the line “under God” because it did not align with her beliefs. I, as a twelve-year-old girl, put no further thought into it and just let it go.

   So when I see grown adults arguing and insulting each other over another person’s relationship to the flag, it makes me wonder—why? Those who kneel should not make those who stand feel guilty, just as those who stand should not make those who kneel feel guilty.

   We must all start to respect that each of us has our own opinions and that is natural and okay. I would never kneel to the flag; I respect all the efforts our country has put into preserving our freedom and rights, especially those who have fallen because of them.

   But my experiences and my life are extremely different than those of the millions of others who live in this nation. So I respect the way in which those people want to express their beliefs, especially since kneeling is very peaceful compared to the millions of other ways people could express their views.

   Many people hold the idea that Americans have always been in unison and that things were much better politically in the past, but this is not true. Even the Founding Fathers had incredibly divergent beliefs, but the way in which our country has gone about reacting to differing opinions has gotten progressively worse.

   We need to start respecting each other and the fact that everyone has varying experiences and ideas. Our country would be much better off if we reacted to our disagreements with less sensitivity and aggression and instead were able to have a meaningful conversation about the issues we face. There are so many horrible situations that are going on in the world right now, and our focus has been on the Kardashians’ pregnancies (yes, plural) and kneeling before the flag.

   While the issue of kneeling during the national anthem is an important one to discuss, it is not being done in a beneficial way and therefore is wasting time—precious time that could be spent on solving far more meaningful issues.

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The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University
Take a knee, or don’t