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I took great exception to R. J. Thomas' letter the editor on Oct. 27, where he states that football players are disrespecting our Nation by kneeling during the National Anthem.

Like Mr. Thomas, I am a U.S. Army Veteran and extremely proud to be an American citizen. I believe America is the greatest nation on Earth and I feel privileged and lucky to have been born in this remarkable country.

But what Mr. Thomas fails to realize is that one detail that makes this country so great is our First Amendment and the right of all citizens to exercise free speech and protest, as long as it is non-violent. Kneeling during the National Anthem is about as non-violent as it gets! And to me kneeling is a perfect example of just how great our nation is. Try doing the same in North Korea (or many other countries) and see what happens!

Some people say there are "other ways" to protest, but isn't that just an exercise in arrogance? Do some people have the right to tell other people HOW they should protest? I think not. Not in America, anyways.

Also, very few improvements have occurred in America without protesters expressing their opinions. Would slavery have continued longer without protesters? Would have the Viet Nam War lasted longer without protesters? And, of course, there are many more examples. Protesting in America is a good thing, not something people should scoff at, mock or try to prevent.

I also find it interesting that the football players' protest message seems to have been lost in the hysteria over their right to protest.

Shouldn't we be talking about the evils of racism in America, instead of vilifying football players for expressing their First Amendment rights?

Racism, especially under the Trump administration, is alive and well in this country and our focus should be on trying to lessen racist behaviors and work toward cooperation and understanding among all Americans. Let's celebrate our Constitutional freedoms instead of putting others down for doing so.

Roger Wong


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