As we commemorate 9/11, athletes who’ve decided to sit or take a knee during the playing of the National Anthem saddens me. Regardless of their unhappiness with individuals or organizations, it is shameless that they’ve chosen to shun the symbol of our flag and disregard the message of the Star Spangled Banner.

America was not a perfect society when she was established, nor is it now. None will ever be perfect as long as flawed people are involved. But the freedom and rights afforded by our Democratic Republic and the U.S. Constitution is far superior to other models that continue to combust worldwide.

Yet the rights and principles upon which we operate have allowed these individuals to belittle the very institutions that have brought them prosperity and fame. Some have taken their grievances all the way back to Francis Scott Key, who wrote the anthem.

Ironically, as an attorney, Mr. Key not only freed slaves decades before it became compulsory, he advocated for them in court. He actually became known as “The (N-word) lawyer,” [1] years before the Civil War settled the issue. So the advocate for chattel slaves from Africa penned the words used to reflect America’s heart. And now we have misguided prima donnas protesting in a disrespectful manner. It is a slap in the face of our nation and strikes at the values that allow them to be mutinous.

Since our famed athletes are protesting America’s flag, the Star Spangled Banner, and peace officers, I thought I’d remind everyone of the deaths that occurred in the line of duty on September 11, 2001:

  • 23 police officers from NYPD
  • 37 police officers from the Port Authority
  • 343 firefighters from FDNY
  • 125 military personnel from the pentagon

Countless more have died on the battlefield since, and approximately 70 peace officers contracted deadly diseases related to the attacks, and have died prematurely since. So quite frankly, I have grown weary of stories covering these public displays of contempt.

Finally, to the athletes sending a message of protest, they should know there have been 2423 peace officers that have died in the line of duty since September 11, 2001. [2] This is a staggering number, yet it apparently means nothing to them. I’m curious what message they’d have for the families who have grieved these losses?

[1] Leepson, Marc, What so Proudly We Hailed: Francis Scott Key, a life (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), p. 26, citing Cincinnati Daily Gazette July 11, 1870.

[2] https://www.odmp.org — accessed September 10, 2016.

Jim McNeff worked in military and civilian law enforcement for thirty-one years. While in the United States Air Force he flew as a crewmember aboard the National Emergency Airborne Command Post—a presidential support detail. Following his military service, he served for twenty-seven years with the Fountain Valley Police Department in Orange County, California where he retired as a lieutenant.

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice from Southwest University and graduated from the Sherman Block Supervisory Leadership Institute as well as the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) course, Leadership in Police Organizations.

Jim authored The Spirit behind Badge 145 (WestBow Press, 2013) and Justice Revealed (CrossLink Publishing, 2016). He is married and has three adult children and three grandchildren. You can contact him at [email protected] or view his website www.badge145.com.