Veterans speak out about NFL National Anthem controversy

Local News

Justin Cogswell, joined the Marines after September 11th, 2001. The American
Flag for him – a symbol of hope and strength.   

“We need to stand strong as a country,” he said. 

Since the NFL’s 2016 season, many football players have chosen to kneel for the anthem to protest racial injustice. But Cogswell, now a veteran says, the flag shouldn’t be an object of protest.

“All I see is division – trying to push a narrative. Some men and women have sacrificed everything. Some have sacrificed nothing, but we all enjoy the same freedoms,” explained Cogswell. 

But, not all veterans feel the same. 

“It is their right to peacefully protest, so they have the right to do it,” said Edward Dwyer, a Naval Veteran. 

Edward Dwyer was in the Navy for 18 years. He says he fought for American’s rights to stand or kneel. 

“At least with them kneeling and acknowledging that the National Anthem is going on, is okay,” Dwyer said. 

But Cogswell worries about the example it sets for kids.

“They start to follow in their footsteps. You see high school kids now taking a knee,” said Cogswell. 

To Dwyer though, they’re in a way being taught the value of freedom.

“I’m going to stand, I’m going to tear up when the national anthem goes because that’s who I am and that’s what I fought for, but I also fought for their right to do what they want within the Constitution for the United States of America,” stated Dwyer. 

Both veterans did agree; however, that sitting while the National Anthem played was inappropriate. ESPN reports ratings are down this year, but it is not confirmed if this is due to the political protests. 

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