CIR Director Carl Castro responds to the recent controversies involving NFL players kneeling during the playing of the national anthem. 

by Carl Castro

Kneeling is a sign of reverence. We kneel when we pray. We kneel when we ask the person we love to marry us. And, if we are from the United Kingdom, we kneel when we are knighted.

No one dies and no one is physically hurt when someone kneels during the playing of the national anthem. The only thing that may be hurt is one’s feelings.

Yet, there are more annoying things that people do during the national anthem that are disrespectful, such as those who don’t even bother standing, those who don’t remove their hats, those who talk and those who buy a beer during its playing. All of these behaviors are annoying and disrespectful. Should we have laws that arrest or fine those people? Of course not. And we certainly don’t need a law to prohibit someone from kneeling during the national anthem, when the act of kneeling is a sign of respect and reverence.

Indeed, kneeling should be what we all do during the playing of the national anthem, yet such a sign of respect will never catch on. Kneeling, after all, is a lot more difficult and inconvenient to do than simply standing with one hand over your heart, while holding a beer with your other hand, wearing your hat, and chatting to your neighbor.


Carl A. Castro, PhD
Associate Professor and Director
Colonel, US Army (Retired)


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