Anonymous, Staff Writer

America is the land of the free and the home of the brave. The emblem of this sentiment is the American flag: a symbol of American lives lost in wars, a icon of justice, a representation of democracy around the world. The flag is of the utmost importance to all patriots, and the things it represents cannot be disrespected.

In America, the first Amendment protects your right to sit down. And this is what makes the flag so powerful. The idea that Americans stand by choice is what makes it significant. But in today’s political discourse, people are taking universal American values of democracy and justice and staining them on a political backdrop. Let me be firm: the flag is not a tool to play politics with. It is mine, yours. It is every immigrant and every citizen’s.

Standing for the flag is what unites Americans. In a politically polarized world, discourse seems to peer into every corner of American life. But the Anthem, three minutes of reflection, allows us to remember the ideals of American democracy. I may not respect Donald Trump, but I respect the system that put him into power. I respect the system that constantly checks his power, stymies his plans and stalls his vision for America. It’s the difference between a monarchy of the past and the government the founders established.

The flag represents the sacrifice of American soldiers. Brave men and women have been shot and killed defending  the flag on their uniform. When you kneel, you are taking their nonpolitical immolation and dirting it.

Junior Aiden Vehemente says, “I think it’s disrespectful, but I don’t think anyone has the right to tell them not to kneel.”

When you kneel, it’s un-American. The founding fathers gave you a forum to discuss this, and it isn’t on the graves of fallen soldiers. If you want change, start grassroots movements, elect new officials, change laws. A key other part of the First Amendment, the right to petition the government, allows you to do so.

As Congress declared in 1782, “The colors of . . .  those used in the flag of the United States of America. White signifies purity and innocence. Red [represents] hardiness and valor and blue . . . signifies vigilance, perseverance and justice.”

That, despite what people believe, is what our flag and what our anthem stand for. It is what we should stand for.