Two veterans view NFL protests differently - FOX Carolina 21

Two veterans view NFL protests differently

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Two veterans view NFL protests differently. (Courtesy: ESPN) Two veterans view NFL protests differently. (Courtesy: ESPN)

When the national anthem is played, many stand and face the American flag. It's what Ronnie Epps does.

"The flag means more to us combat vets then you'll ever know," Epps said.

He says members of his family are third generation servicemen.

"When you're not respecting the flag and respecting the national anthem you're not respecting us," Epps said. "They should be arrested have it on record and they should be fined."

It makes him upset when he sees NFL players take a knee, especially when his wheelchair-bound father would honor the anthem. 

"Me and my sister or me and my brother would pick him up because he wanted to stand," Epps explained.

Dr. Paul Grady is a history professor at USC Upstate in Spartanburg. He says Francis Scott Key first wrote the anthem as a poem in 1814.

"He was trapped on board a British ship and witnessed the siege of Ft. McHenry," Grady said.

Key saw bombs and a flag, a reason some historians say the flag is displayed during the anthem.

"(The battle at Ft. McHenry) caused the British to retreat out of the Chesapeake which stopped a massive invasion of the Chesapeake Bay of 1814," Grady explained. "The war of 1812 itself is a little bit about patriotism and 'The Star-Spangled Banner' becomes part of the national fervor that comes out of that war."

Other veterans believe patriotism isn't just a correlation with the military and there are many ways to show patriotism. 

"It doesn't matter who we protest or what we protest against, we have that right," Rev. J.M. Flemming said.

He is also a veteran. 

"When I was wearing a uniform for this country, I was fighting for the constitution and our amendment," Flemming said.

He says when Colin Kapernick took a knee, it had nothing to do with the flag or the anthem, and he doesn't see the protest as disrespectful.

"When the skin heads and the KKK get together and fight and kill somebody, these are 'good people'. But, when a black wealthy man gets on his knee in protest against a social injustice then all hell breaks loose in this country," Flemming said.

Some historians also debate a third verse of the anthem, which is no longer performed. Some believe it speaks negatively about slaves, others disagree.

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