The United States has been rocked in the recent months with a strange new trend that is still drawing a lot of attention and criticism from all sects of society. The trend to sit or kneel during the national anthem made its first appearance when Colin Kaepernick decided to kneel during the national anthem during a 49ers NFL game. However, that trend has grown to include other athletes and even some members of the American military.
One of the first examples of a military member’s protest against the anthem was shared to Facebook. It is a video of a female sailor who happens to be black. She stated that she wouldn’t stand at attention for the anthem as long as the United States continues to ignore the problem she sees in society. Specifically, she said she wanted the government to prove that they ‘have got her back as a black woman’.
The video from the female sailor prompted the Navy to speak with her regarding her actions and words, but officials have already said that she won’t be removed from service. However, despite knowing this, another black female sailor posted a message to social media regarding her decision to sit out during the national anthem in the wake of highly public shootings that have occurred in the recent weeks.
The second female sailor, Janaye Ervin, posted her message alongside a photo that showed her in uniform. Her statement discusses her pledge to uphold the Constitution of the United States, and while she admits that she will never falter in that resolve, she feels the rule of the land is highly hypocritical. She stated she would happily stand for the anthem when the perceived injustices have ended. She goes on to say in the message that the Navy has punished her for her statements, and that they have confiscated equipment she needs to perform her Naval duties.
Unfortunately, there are some inconsistencies with what Ervin said, and those inconsistencies were pointed out by Navy veterans who are navigated the Naval environment for years. It turns out that the Navy didn’t punish Ervin for her statements, but because her actions were in violation of the Navy’s standard practices. It is a requirement for all Naval personnel to stand at attention and face the American flag during the national anthem while in uniform. Since Ervin violated those regulations, she was subject to discipline.
The right to protest is one of the things that makes America what it is, but there is a big difference between the right to protest and the right to be free from consequences resulting from the protest method chosen by the protestor. The truth of the matter is that any member of the American military must follow these codes of conduct just as any other employee must follow the codes of conduct for their employer. Just as an employee gives up certain rights when they go work, so do members of the armed services. They instantly become representatives of the United States, and that responsibility is immense.
Another Naval veteran by the name of Martin Baker, who also happens to be black, said the situation reminded him of what he learned while in military training. Military personnel exist to protect and preserve democracy, not actually practice it themselves. The military is a highly complex tiered system that depends almost entirely on the obedience of everyone in the hierarchy, and the behavior of Ervin goes against the tenants of that hierarchy. In response to the behavior of these recent protesting sailors, the Navy has released a set of updated and specified guidelines regarding what they expect from their members.