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Tucson Veteran: 'Taking a knee' doesn't disrespect the American flag, but wearing it on a t-shirt does
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Tucson Veteran: 'Taking a knee' doesn't disrespect the American flag, but wearing it on a t-shirt does

The following is the opinion and analysis of the writer:

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees apologized for his racist comments about Colin Kaepernick and the flag. Yes, I said “racist.” I can’t keep on playing PC with you when it is contrary to the truth.

“Taking a knee” as a sign of disrespect was created by a man who never served (because he had sore feet), don’t like those who were captured (no love for POW/MIAs or their families), and recognized by greater than 90% of African Americans as racist.

And racist in that creation was to devalue black lives. In some circles that devaluation was successful. But to find out truth about “taking a knee” you might want to visit ( for this definition below:

“In general, taking a knee in the military is a sign of respect or simply taking a rest while on a mission. It’s a gesture that many soldiers will participate in at the foot of a fallen friend’s grave and isn’t seen as a negative at all.”

Drew Brees originally stated that it was his father and father-in-law who served in WWII as the reason he couldn’t support Kaepernick. My father served in WWII; my stepfather serviced in Korea; and I served during the Vietnam conflict.

Given that it was a Marine who suggested to Colin Kaepernick to take a knee, we who served recognized that as a show of respect for the Constitution that the flag was created to represent. It was also used to reflect our First Amendment rights, which is sacred and an obligation. As those who served we have taken a knee in many situations, and all are with respect to our creed as Americans.

But disrespect to the flag has also been politicized and racialized. We have a US Code, which is a number of laws and rules that were first codified in 1926 to guide American values. This can be found at

One section is how to properly respect and handle the flag. There is also a section that defines what is disrespect of the flag. There you will find that “The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding or drapery.”

Which group of Americans have been, and most likely, will continue to defile the flag in this manner? A military person could get court-martialed for violating this rule.

It becomes racialized when one group is penalized for practicing their constitutional rights, but the group that shows disrespect to our most prized symbol, (and breaking the law), is ignored.

There has been no media that has educated the public on the truth of “taking a knee,” what it really means or how it is violated. I hope this can be a first step.

Frank Thompson is the past president of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 106 in Tucson, and a retired engineer and schoolteacher.

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