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Stand, Sit, Kneel, Salute…The choice is YOURS (Editorial Opinion).

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BarbertonJournal.com is a Barberton news and entertainment provider with content by local writers, experts, and Community Leaders. The opinions are of the writers.

I am not going to put my 2 cents in this argument because clearly not everyone has the same opinion. That is what it is..AN OPINION..not fact or law, just a feeling. Your free to think for your self felling.

Much controversy on this matter, lot of anger, tons of he said she said, but when all is said and done, it is an opinion. BUT I have never seen it so eloquently put as it was by Justin C. Risley. A true American and Vet, Husband, Father, Son, and your neighbor …Please take the time to read this as it might clear a few things up for us.

As Stated and Written by Justin C. Risley

I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same. I spoke these words 23 years ago. In light of recent events at the high school, I feel I must give a full account of my position.

First I had three grandfathers that served in the military during WWII, my father and 7 uncles served during Vietnam, my mother served in Korea during the ’80s (she is buried at Western Reserve Military Cemetery), countless cousins, peers and friends that have served since, and nephews and close friends still serving. I served from August 1993 to August 1997 in the U.S. Navy aboard CVN-71, U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt.

I was, by that grace of God, given the opportunity to serve in the greatest Navy this world has ever seen. I have seen the sunrise and set over many countries from the deck of a warship God also granted me the pure joy of serving with the best group of pecker woods ever to inhabit the Big-stick. I am also surrounded by men and women that have served our country, and those that continue serving their communities every day (vet or not).

I don’t know of anyone more patriotic than myself. I love my country, my countrymen, our flag, our history (good and bad. the bad teaches us lessons), the pledge, the anthem and above all else the Constitution.

I do not condone sitting during the raising or lowering of the flag, the folding of the flag (especially when it was just removed from the coffin of someone that served under it), the pledge, or our National Anthem. Most of my life I would say that I would never do it. My opinion has been altered as of late. That is for later.

Nationally Colin Kaepernick started this trend. His contention was it was to bring light to the issue of police brutality of minorities. I personally feel that he was a mediocre football player, and he did it to keep himself relevant. He could have made a far bigger impact kneeling during a play, spending his money to support his cause, or kicking ass on the field and being very vocal in the press! I am unsure that the issue exists to the level he claimed, but I know like almost everything social aspect it can always be improved. There is a serious issue no matter how small.

Now for the elephant in the room. Two Barberton high school basketball players have been sitting during the Anthem. I do not condone this action, but can stop and look at the bigger picture. What caused them to do so? I have seen much conjecture online form adults without any knowledge of the actual reason. It has been proposed that it could be religious in nature, or that one of the players had a family member killed by the police recently. If either is actually the reason the shame on the many adults that are condemning them. It does not matter the reason that the family member was shot either! You have a child grieving and doing it in a nondestructive nature. Not one person online addressed that fact.

I saw many who claimed to be mentors, state that the boys should be drafted, kicked off the team, benched, beat, funding should be withheld from the thousands of other students in Barberton’s school system. I have no respect for any person that is suggesting this dribble. First, there is no draft because it is only used in the time of need. There is no one at all anymore due to it must now include women. Welcome to equality ladies. Most of those bitching have never done a single thing to actually help a vet, beyond lip service and standing for a symbol. None are showing this much ire about the 22 service members that kill themselves each day. I would never do it, but I wish that I could find 21 other vets to go to a game with me and lay down during the anthem! At least then, those 22 might get the attention they deserve.

Now for the reasons they can do whatever they want. Even if you hate them and what they are doing, they are protected by the law. That is a fact. To violate that would cost the administration, school system, other students, and the city as a whole. Though they may not support the act the school system is bound by the Constitution and state law, not to violate their civil rights.

Next, they are teens. I did not see anyone stepping up to address this with them or to get their story. To explain what it all means. What exactly the weight of their protest brings and where they tread? As teens either situation could be weighing heavily on them. To be attacked of something that is so important to them will only push them further form what is supposedly being defended. .Unlike Kapernick this is their best avenue for recognition or outlet

For me, the issue hinges on one single point. That point is mentioned in the portion of my oath from above. The Constitution protects their right to protest in this manner. It says the support and defends the Constitution. It says nothing about the flag, pledge, anthem, or anyone’s feelings. It applies equally to minors as extended to them by their parents. My children have the full protection of the Constitution in case anyone was wondering. I am most proud that my service allows those that don’t agree with me to do as they please. The Constitution is the very foundation of our country. It is a legal representation of the rights granted to all by the creator. It is the single most important set of Ideals ever created. Those ideals do not stand up unless applied equally to all. Therefore, though I may not agree with their methods, I will defend their right to do so. With my life if necessary.

I will close with a quote by James Madison. “The purpose of the Constitution is to restrict the majority’s ability to harm the minority.” I hope that this explains my behaviors as of late. This is a fight that cannot be lost, due to the complex nature of the issue. We need to be better to each other especially the youth of this great nation. If others can not my gloves are off!

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Judy Michel
Judy Michel
Originally from Akron, Ohio, moved to Barberton in 1986. Retired Phlebotomist. Now wife, mother and grandmother. special interests..meeting the wonderful and talented people in Barberton and getting to know as many as I can.

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