So what is all the hubbub about NFL players and other prominent athletes taking a knee during the National Anthem?

Disrespect?

Hardly.

Our flag and the anthem stand not for some rigid code of loyalty, but for the hard-won freedoms we have and the heroes — black, white, men, women, immigrants and long-time settlers, and yes, natives — who fought and died under that flag to win and protect those freedom.

By protesting, people do not dishonor the flag or our veterans.

They are exercising their right, protected by the First Amendment, to speak their minds, to highlight something important to them, to speak and petition their government.

… That the Founders themselves failed to live up to their own lofty ideals is no surprise. They talked and wrote about freedom, but considered blacks and women unqualified to vote or hold office, intellectually inferior to white men.

No one today would go back to that era, but at the same time, these men established the outline, the framework and the goals of our great country. …

Despite the progress of the 70 years since the Civil Rights movement began, our country remains far from perfect for many — for black teens who can't find a job or get an education, for women facing a glass ceiling, for immigrant and long-time minorities held in poverty, for those of the wrong race or economic class whose rights often are disrespected, whose lives may be forfeited.

That's what this protest is about. We may not all agree on the specifics, but notice how many are united, especially in the face of tasteless criticism from our president. …

Just as it's their Constitutional right to protest, it's everyone's right to make up their own mind about their ideas and their means. . …

This is still the best country in the world. I'm sure these athletes, with their big salaries and fancy cars would agree. But it could be better; that's what they're saying.

They have our attention. Now we need to talk about how to change things, to continue that "progress" to the point where race or sex or religion no longer matter, only skill and hard work.

There is nothing unpatriotic about that.

— The Colby Free Press