When I take a knee …

Here are the times when I’ve taken a knee:

— I once took a knee during a game when a soccer player’s shin was shattered right in front of me. I remember feeling somewhat helpless, but I knew that taking a knee was one small gesture of respect to that injured girl and to something bigger that was going on around me. It wasn’t about me.

— I took a knee when my coach had something to say that everyone needed to hear. I knelt to show respect to my coach, to show I was listening.

— I’ve also taken a knee during a game when I was so tired, when I fought so hard, that I just need a minute to regain the strength to stand and fight again. I took

a knee to catch my breath. I took a knee to pull strength from the depths of my soul to keep me going.

— I took a knee when I couldn’t stand on my own and I needed someone else’s help to get me back up.

— Another time I take a knee, actually two, is every time I pray. When I’m looking for guidance, change, and love, I take two knees.

To me, taking a knee has never been a sign of disrespect; it’s been the opposite. Taking a knee is a thoughtful, calculated act used to convey a message. I know what you’re thinking, “But you didn’t kneel during the anthem.” Hear me out.

I can’t stop reading people’s posts/opinions about this whole #takeaknee issue.

Every time I see someone post about it, I have to read the comments. I feel like it keeps me grounded in reality but buried under hateful rhetoric at the same time.

When I first heard about Colin Kaepernick’s act of taking a knee, I was angry. I was annoyed. I even wanted to see him off the field … forever. It wasn’t until yesterday that

my opinion changed.

When I salute the flag, when I sing the national anthem, when I pledge my allegiance, it means something deep to me. I never served, but I feel that honoring the flag is my way to honor every man/woman who has served our country. It’s my time to thank those gracious patriots for having the strength to protect perfect strangers, at the risk of paying the ultimate sacrifice, which is something I’m too much of a coward to do. So, when Kaepernick took a knee, I was pissed. I was angry. I saw his gesture as a big f-you to the United States of America. But let’s be honest, that’s because he was disrespecting something I hold so dear to my heart. Our flag. Something I have preconceived standards for and rituals that are engrained into the fabric of my being. To me, disrespecting our flag was like flipping off our veterans.

Well, my opinion has changed.

While I would never kneel during the anthem, while I would never stay in the locker room during our nation’s song, I understand what’s happening now. I’m reminded that I live in America: the land of the free because of the brave.

I thought veterans were feeling disrespected when players take a knee. That might be true for some, but it’s not true of all our vets. The vet who tweeted: “I’m a vet and if you think I served so football players can take a knee during the anthem to protest injustice … you’d be right” changed my mind.

Y’all, the same people I thought I was defending by being angry with players who #takeaknee aren’t even mad.They get it. They remember why they fought. They defend the rights of people they don’t know. They protect the rights of strangers, even if they don’t agree with what they’re doing. Some vets are even smiling because they are reminded that their sacrifice got us here. Their sacrifice is helping people speak freely, protest peacefully, and urging society to change.

If our vets can support all these players’ gestures of peaceful protest, I can too. While I won’t be taking a knee at this time in my life, I support the people who do. Peaceful protest is a right we all have, and I wouldn’t compromise having that right just to make everyone think the same way I do.


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