To be or not to be a patriot: that is the question



San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) and Eric Reid (35) kneel down during the playing of the national anthem before their NFL game on Monday, Sept. 12, 2016 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group/TNS)

Jahnae Runnells, Opinion Editor

Over the past month, the hot topic in America has been the meaning of patriotism. San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick sat on the bench during the National Anthem during the first couple of weeks in the preseason ceremonies. With immediate backlash from the public under the perceived disregard for military sacrifice, Kaepernick changed his protest and has since taken a knee during the National Anthem. Despite his change, many still believe that he lacks patriotism.

According to, the definition of a “patriot” is “a person who regards himself or herself as a defender, especially of individual rights, against presumed interference by the federal government.” When explaining why he will not stand for the National Anthem, Kaepernick told reporters, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color… There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” Referring to the numerous police killings in the past weeks, Kaepernick has stood up and called out the inconsistencies of this country. He has begun a conversation that addresses individual rights for the oppressed. It is his citizen given right to exercise his freedom of speech.

Another definition of a ‘patriot’ according to is “a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion”. In which case, the military veterans and current active duty members are a forceful example of partially what a patriot is.

Granted, the National Anthem is something that is a constant reminder of how America even got to this point. Yet, when this nation was created, the founding fathers promised us all freedom within this country. The founding fathers encouraged citizens to defend their rights and the rights of their fellow citizens. Kaepernick did exactly what a patriot should do.

Many veterans agree with Kaepernick and his protesting choice. Shortly after the uproar regarding his protesting techniques, the #VeteransForKaepernick hashtag began and the overflowing support from veterans came. Eli’jah Jordan, a US Army soldier tweeted, “Crazy the media is trying to tell how VETERANS feel about the Kap situation. I support him.” Another soldier, Jeffrey Crossman tweeted, “I serve to protect your freedoms, not a song.”

The military members are more than the National Anthem. They are more than heroes. They are strong, fearless defenders who sacrificed their life for Kaepernick to sacrifice his livelihood for all of America to live up to what the founding fathers set for this country. There are military veterans who can no longer stand because of their sacrifice, and there are American citizens who can no longer breathe because they trusted the constitution would be followed.

Instead of bickering with each other, this country needs to come together and address these situations and feelings instead of questioning someone’s patriotism because they went against a grain that many are afraid to do. At the end of the day, Kaepernick did America a favor. He shined light on an issue and now these issues are a topic of conversation. Sometimes standing in the pocket instead of throwing the ball down field is necessary because when the sack comes, the game plan has to be talked about and changed.