NFL Star Awes Social Media With National Anthem ‘Why I Stand’ Essay … Every American Should Read This

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This NFL tight end has not only been one of the most reliable offensive stars in professional football, he’s also one of the most reliable defenders of traditional American values on the public stage today.

And though an injury has sidelined him for the season – and possibly permanently – the Baltimore Ravens’ Benjamin Watson is still in the thick of the action when it comes comes to scoring points for the conservative side in America’s culture wars.

In a Facebook posting this week taking on the still-boiling controversy over San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s childish refusal to stand for the pre-game national anthem, Watson proved that off the field, he’s still got the moves to be a leader.

I will not have the option to kneel this Sunday while the National Anthem is being played. A week ago, in what would prove to be my last pre-game opportunity of this 2016 season, I stood with my right hand over my heart as the anthem played. And if I am fortunate enough to ever be dressed for another game day I imagine I would be doing the same thing I did in my last. Standing.

Besides being a star on the field, Watson has made a name for himself by consistently taking on liberal talking points, from the controversy over transgender bathrooms, to the shocking rate of abortion among black women, to the Black Lives Matter mobs in Baltimore last year and in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014. 

He isn’t afraid to let everyone know that he walks the walk…though even walking is now a pain for Watson after a season-ending torn Achilles.

In the Kaepernick post, Watson explained that he understands that the United States is not perfect, but his respect for “The Star-Spangled Banner” is part of his respect for the ideals the country was built on. And the improvement its shown over the years.

I stand because as a child, I saw my father stand. A man who lived the tumultuous transition from “separate but equal” to the times surrounding the Civil Rights Act when angry people who held signs at his new school viscously screamed “NIGGER GO HOME!” I stand because on the contrary, no one held such a sign when I walked into my grade school.

When he hears the anthem, Watson wrote, he sees what the country is capable of, and gives “thanks to God for the land he has placed me in, and the people I love who live in it.”

I stand, because this mixed bag of evil and good is MY home. And because it’s MY home my standing is a pledge to continue the fight against all injustice and preserve the greatest attributes of the country, including Colin Kaepernick’s right to kneel.

And while he doesn’t call out Kaepernick overtly, as others have done, Watson’s conclusion makes it clear he thinks every other professional football player – even any other American – ought to respect the flag as much as this patriotic player does.

As elusive an aspiration as it may be, our goal, especially in the arena of race, should continue to be to create an America where eventually everyone can, in good conscience, stand. No matter the historical context or the present circumstance that is the unity I, perhaps naively, imagine when I see our flag and listen to our anthem.

It’s not naïve at all — not to anyone who has studied and appreciated the founding and history of this country.

And judging by the response on social media, there are plenty who appreciated Watson’s post, which was trending on Twitter Tuesday afternoon.

Amen. Watson has clearly thought out the matter more than most people. Still, it’s a pretty good bet that when most Americans hear those first lines of Francis Scott Key’s classic — whether in a haunting a capella soprano or the crashing majesty of a military brass band — they feel the same swell of pride and understanding.

AT 35, Watson might not have too much time left as a professional ballplayer, but here’s hoping he’s got a long life ahead to keep spreading the word and standing up for what America stands for.

A torn Achilles tendon might hinder the legs, but it can’t silence the heart.

Just keep in mind, do not accept the media’s push and don’t allow them to dishearten you. Make America Great Again!



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