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Amidst all the rhetoric and furor over NFL players not standing but kneeling during the national anthem, I am left wondering what their quiet but very public protest is saying. They are not burning the American flag, or trampling it underfoot. Is anyone asking them to explain their reasoning?

In the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, we promise "with liberty and justice for all." Are they saying we need to do more to fulfill that ideal? Do they disrespect those who have sacrificed their lives or their mental or physical health because their country called them to? We need to hear their thinking and reasoning. It may not mean the disrespect that many assume.

Is this day of instant messaging we can voice opinions quickly that might better be pondered for a while. What someone says or does is not always interpreted the way it was meant.

Dissent from the accepted norm takes courage. I had a college professor say, "I may not agree with you, but I would die to defend your right to say it." Ideas are not changed when dialogue shuts down. If we name call and consider those who disagree or immediately take offense, we all lose.

While I was still teaching in public schools, we said the Pledge of Allegiance each morning and often sang "The Star-Spangled Banner." Those students who were Jehovah's Witness members did not participate, but either sat quietly or left the room for that time. There was no fuss or argument. We respected their right to obey their conscience.

I hope we can still do that in the "land of the free and the home of the brave."

Dorthea Wood, Decatur


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