Black lives matter. White lives matter. Blue lives matter. Every life matters.

Whatever race, religion or color you are, we all live in America. We are part of a country that is lucky enough to be populated with such a wide and unique variety of people. It might not be the most perfect or fair country, but if you’re living in America, and it’s time to honor and tribute the national anthem, you should respect it.

There have been increasing discussions about disrespecting the American flag during public events on national television. During the 2016 Rio Olympics, Gabby Douglas slouched during the medal ceremony and failed to place her hand over her heart alongside her gold-winning U.S. gymnastics team.

During the anthem before the San Francisco 49ers’ final preseason game, quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat down during the national anthem. He continues to take a knee when the anthem is being played during games and is now joined by fellow teammates and other NFL players protesting for people of color who are being oppressed in the United States.

On the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, four Miami Dolphins football players followed Kaepernick’s protest by kneeling during the anthem.

If you don’t like what is happening in the country or think the country is disrespecting you, then do something about it. But do it on your own time, not when millions of people are watching. These athletes being represented on television are not just ordinary people. They are role models and heroes to many children who watch them.

To disrespect the flag and our nation on television for everyone to see is not right. If you want to make a statement, make a change. Sitting during the anthem is not changing anything or helping any cause.

Ever since we were children, we were taught to stand up, place our right hand over our heart, face the flag and say the Pledge of Allegiance. Many of us didn’t understand why we had to do it, but we did it anyway because we knew we should.

Kids don’t know about oppression, police brutality or anything to make them think twice about respecting the flag. But when these kids watch their role models during football games or the Olympics, they are watching them sitting down, not having their right hand over their heart, and not doing what they have been taught to do.

Now these kids might start to do the same. They think that because these athletes can do it, that it must be OK for them to do it. If you don’t like how the people of this country are treating each other, then be the role models and teach the children of a new generation how to make this country a better place.

The anthem is supposed to symbolize one nation and unify the country through all of the ups and downs it may be having. It’s supposed to bring the people who live in this country together and remind each other that we are still one. So when the national anthem is playing and you’re someone who is being watched by millions of people nationwide, put aside your opinions and anger for a minute to respect the flag and respect your country.

Email Emily Kim at emily.kim@cardinalpointsonline.com

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