What Really Happened During the City Recreational League's Pre-Game Events & the Respect Demanded During the Rendering of the National Anthem

Tuesday, 13 September 2016 Posted in Video Blogs, Attorney Articles

This past Saturday, a staff member monitoring Facebook phoned to advise the Finklea Law Firm was tagged in a post about a sponsorship we provided. I first thought it was positive feedback from our partnership with the Florence Sheriff Department’s Patriot Ride in honor of 9/11 victims held that day. It wasn’t until later that my son shared with me a post from Facebook publishing, “It’s sad when a coach of a 5-6 year old flag football team makes [their] kids kneel during the National Anthem and the Finklea Law Firm should know about their sponsorship at the Florence city football please spread the word so it can be addressed.” Well, word did spread, and I would like to take this opportunity to address several issues.

What Really Happened

After thorough investigation and speaking with Coach A. Johnson and others, I can now say with certainty that he never instructed his players to kneel for the National Anthem, he never intended to make a political statement at this event, and that he is a God-fearing, Patriotic American who would never disrespect our Nation or its heroes by not paying respect to our Flag or our National Anthem. In the excitement of pre-game formalities, he could not get his young players calmed or settled down to pay attention to the announcer. He did instruct his players to sit or kneel before the prayer. Immediately after the prayer, the National Anthem was sung, and simply in the haste of the moment, his players did not stand. He certainly understands how this event could appear as a political statement, but that was not the intent. I have been assured by Coach Brown and my partner, Charlie Blake, who spoke with Victor Johnson, a League Official, that more attention will be given to the etiquette required during the pre-game formalities. 

My Observations of this Situation - Both Good and Bad

I was delighted so many patriotic Americans and fellow Florentines were concerned that we properly salute our flag and display reverence during the National Anthem. I was also delighted the friends and clients of our firm wanted to make us aware of this event. The staff at Finklea Law Firm and I try to be exemplary citizens and display our American pride through flying our U.S. and South Carolina State Flag at our office at 814 West Evans Street, showcasing a framed copy of the Declaration of Independence in our lobby, offering free US Constitutions and always willing to speak on occasions such as Constitution Day about our Godly American Heritage. 

I was disappointed however that so many rushed to judgment without first investigating, and second, how fast the false news of this event spread.  I was also disappointed that some drew negative opinions about our firm without inquiring about our reputation and beliefs.  Though the team in question bears our name, we actually had no connection to the team itself but we were asked to provide an opportunity for kids to participate in youth sports. We simply made an undirected donation to the League, and as a sign of appreciation, they placed one firm name on the jersey of a team that did not have a sponsor. We have pledged our support  in the past and will continue to do so to the Florence Recreation Department. We will gladly align ourselves with Coach Brown and the young kids he coaches and any other organization that seeks to train children consistent with Godly principles that promote love of our country.  

Protesting the American Flag and National Anthem are Counterproductive and Illegal

But for the despicable and dishonorable conduct of a backup quarterback from San Francisco 49ers and other patriotically challenged sports figures, the conduct of these 5 and 6-year-olds would have been dismissed as simply that typical of 5 and 6-year-olds. The actions of those like Colin Kaepernick are counterproductive, divisive, hateful, hurtful and encourage kids and even culturally illiterate adults to oppose authority and respect for our country. Has Kaepernick’s conduct unified, edified, built a consensus or open dialogue? Absolutely not. In fact, he has likely hurt the cause he sought to promote – a cause which is meritorious of discussion. What kind of country would we have if our citizenry followed the example of Kaepernick? Citizens that did not love our country? Citizens that have no respect for the national symbols that unify us? Citizens that do not have pride in being an American? Well, you wouldn’t have America of course, but we would have a mobocracy or ochlocracy. What will the Kaepernick type followers seek to protest next? Challenging the authority of our elected officials? Authority of our judiciary? Authority of our Law Enforcement – well, that is the problem we have now - a lack of respect for the Rule of Law established in the US Constitution and other laws. A free people cannot be governed by the whims of men that are ever-changing and dependent on the cultural desire of the day. 

There will always be some form of injustice in this county, but our founders established a process by which the will of the majority will prevail but constitutional provisions exist to protect the rights of the minority. The Fourteenth Amendment to our Constitution provides that no person shall be deprived of “life, liberty or property without due process of law” or “deny to any person…the equal protection of the laws.” 

Kaepernick’s Self-Serving Behavior Insults our Veterans and is Anti-American

The self-serving and disrespectful conduct of Kaepernick was first publicized during the 49ers' season opener. It coincided with a salute to the military planned for that event, and the crowd was filled with veterans and many wounded veterans. If you want to talk about “injustice”, consider Kaepernick is bringing home an $11,000,000 salary and the veterans who he insulted that night don’t even have access to adequate health care - veterans who couldn’t stand to salute the flag because they lost limbs in defense of our country and veterans who can’t even function sufficiently to maintain a minimum wage job due to injuries, both physical and emotional, sustained in defense of the freedoms Kaepernick is exercising. Again, this type of conduct does not heal wounds, create dialogue or lead to solutions.

In a recent interview, Kaepernick was asked what kind of plan he had to further his goal of preventing racial injustice and minority oppression. His response indicated he had no plan and further evidenced he is engaging in self-serving and disrespectful conduct. An African-American Army Ranger summed it up succinctly by stating, “to disrespect the country that has afforded him the opportunities and fortunes he has acquired is only made more offensive by the fact that his life is the personification of the ideals…in the American flag and National Anthem; a bi-racial child, raised by white parents, and who has accomplished much despite his ‘oppression’.  In how many more nations around the world can a story like that come to fruition?”

Historical Review of the Flag and Anthem

     FLAG.  For a history of the US Flag, simply Google that phrase.  “For more than 200 years the flag has been the symbol of our nation’s strength and unity.  It’s been a source of pride and inspiration for millions of citizens.  And the American Flag has been a prominent icon in our national history.”  The flag today consists of thirteen horizontal stripes, seven red alternating with six white stripes. The stripes represent the original thirteen colonies; the stars represent the fifty states of the union. The colors of the flag are symbolic too: the red symbolizes Hardiness and Valor, white symbolizes Purity and Innocence, and blue represents Vigilance, Perseverance and Justice. Justice – yes, Justice! Kaepernick is obviously against taking time to study the symbol he is protesting as the message contradicts the meaning of the flag itself.

One of the more memorable images of the United States flag is when it was raised over Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima by the U.S. Marines during World War II.  Another is where it appears in the background of Astronaut Buzz Aldrin after he and Neil Armstrong were the first men to walk on the moon in 1969.  A more recent is when it was raised by firefighters after 9/11 at ground zero almost 15 years from today.  The flag is a powerful symbol of Americanism and is proudly flown from capital domes to houses to our national cemeteries. 

     THE NATIONAL ANTHEM.  The Star-Spangled Banner became our National Anthem in 1931.  It was penned by Francis Scott Key on September 14, 1814 (a day short of 202 years ago), who had been inspired by the sight of the large American flag (30’x 42’) still flying over Fort McHenry after a night of heavy British bombardment from the waters of the Patapsco River off the Chesapeake Bay in the Baltimore Harbor.  I suggest you visit Wallbuilders.com and search for the history of the Star-Spangled Banner.  So many forget that the anthem consists of four verses, not one. Each verse ends with the affirmation that our flag shall wave “o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”  The last verse proclaims that our national motto is “In God is our Trust”. 

What does the United States Code of Laws say bout Kaepernick’s conduct? 

I don’t even think the President knew this in his response to what he thought about Kaepernick’s conduct in a press conference on September 10th – yet another missed opportunity to firmly affirm American values, the uniqueness of our Republic and how an active, informed, patriotic citizenry should respond to political issues. Specifically, Title 36 of the United States Code Section 301 specifically articulates the Conduct required during the playing of the National Anthem:

                §301(b) During a rendition of the national anthem-

  1. (1)When the flag is displayed-
    1. (A)individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note;
    2. (B)members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute in the manner provided for individuals in uniform; and
    3. (C)all other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and
  2. (2)when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed. 

Unfortunately, though this section establishes a standard of conduct, it provides no penalty for its violation. 

The Bigger Problem

The bigger problem is far too many of us lack a basic knowledge of the decisive and sound principles beholden by our Founders.  For a simple but clear discussion of those principles, I would encourage you to read The Five Thousand Year Leap. In one of Ken Ard’s recent morning shows, he reviewed the results from a 2014 gallop poll. Forty-two percent did not even know the name of our National Anthem; 66% did not know who gave the Gettysburg address; 20% did not know what occurred at Pearl Harbor; 32% did not know what the Holocaust involved. Far less understood principles within our Constitution. 

The danger with the dumbing down of our citizenry and electorate is that we are susceptible to threats to our Nation – whether it be Socialism, Sharia Law, military threats, domestic policy, debt, infiltration of immorality, threats to a free-market  economy, erosion of checks and balances, shift of power within our 3 Branches of Government, failing to protect the family, a Godless society....These threats are here and they will only become more frequent, intense and diversified. If we cannot unite around themes involving the flag and the National Anthem which promote national pride in our freedoms, liberty, and patriotism, how are we going to unite to defend attacks on the principles of freedom and governance established by our Founding Fathers? 

What We Can Do

I was pleased to learn that sponsors dropped many players who followed in Kaepernick’s shoes. I was pleased to learn that in the 49ers' game against the Chargers that Kaepernick was booed all 34 plays he participated until he was finally taken out of the remainder of the game. I was pleased that no Washington Redskins player protested the National Anthem in their recent game but walked on to the field in solidarity while holding a piece of the large American Flag displayed during the Anthem – now that is consensus building and making a statement!    

We can also protest in similar fashions. Don’t support the NFL or other groups until they make a firm statement on the divisive conduct of players within their association.  Turn off the television. I guarantee you if ticket sales drop or television ratings drop, financial pressure will correct their misconduct. Follow in the footsteps of the Chargers and boo any player who disrespects our national symbols. Follow in the footsteps of the Redskins and show unity and support for our great nation and flag.  America has a history of uniting in times of crisis just like after 9/11 or the shooting of the Emmanuel nine. We can rise above diversity and injustice, but there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it. Encouraging anti-American conduct is counterproductive. 

We can also take this opportunity to educate ourselves and children on the proper respect for our national symbols.  I would encourage every school and sports program to announce the proper etiquette when the National Anthem is delivered.  Review the history of the US Flag, the National Anthem and for those really interested, pick up a history book and review the events which lead to the birth of our great nation. My involvement on this topic began which the questionable conduct of a ball coach and 5 and 6-year-olds. We all have a responsibility to be good and Godly influences on our youth. Volunteer, educate and motivate the younger generation to become civic-minded, informed and responsible citizens.

The deadline to vote in the November election is October 8.  While the next President will have a multitude of avenues to shape power, the appointment of the next United States Supreme Court Justice will be the most legally significant opportunity for the president to shape policy. The balance and fate of our Republic likely lies in the appointment of our next United States Supreme Court Justice.An excellent article on this point was published in Imprimis titled “The Next Supreme Court Justice” by Attorney General Scott Pruitt. Before the Court, during the next few years will be issues involving freedom of speech (Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association); the protection of religious liberty (Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Pauley); freedom of religious conscious (cases similar to Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor); the Second Amendment, voting laws, scope of permissible executive orders; scope of federal agencies to usurp legislative authority; authority of the President agencies to mandate accommodations for transgender people; immigration; and legalized marijuana.

To Be Clear

To be absolutely clear, I find Colin Kaepernick’s conduct to be in violation of the law, counterproductive, divisive, and insulting to the men and women who have served our Country and to those citizens who pledge allegiance to the United States and the principles upon which it was founded. 

As a final thought, no one living individual will save our country, no political party will, nor will an opinion by the Supreme Court. Rather, our salvation is through the blood of Jesus Christ. The best influence that we can have on our fellow Americans is though winning their soul to Christ, one soul at a time, followed by genuine bible study, meaningful prayer and Godly living. 

If you have any more questions about our Godly American Heritage and my love for our country, I will be glad to share those with you.  Please call.