Members of the St. Clair VFW, American Legion, firefighters and community members gathered on the Interstate 44 overpasses in support of the “We Stand” movement Saturday, Oct. 21.
After attending a district meeting a week prior, VFW Cmdr. James Myers said other surrounding communities were participating in the same movement nationwide. VWF members stood by I-44 exit 239 and American Legion members stood by the 240 exit.
“We just wanted to make it a point that we stand behind the American flag and we stand behind the national anthem,” Myers said.
The movement is in connection with the National Football League players who kneel during the national anthem at games.
Colin Kaepernick, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, started the sideline protests last season. He began kneeling to raise awareness of social injustice such as police brutality against African-Americans, according to The New York Times.
However, veteran organizations such as the VFW view kneeling during the national anthem a sign of disrespect, according to Myers.
“If you’ve never had to risk your life,” Myers said, “you shouldn’t disrespect (the American flag). And I wholeheartedly believe that.”
In addition to veterans, Myers added first responders including fire, police and EMS risk their lives every day not knowing what will happen.
While watching NFL games at the VFW, Myers said if there are players kneeling, members will ask for the television be turned off or switched to another channel.
“We have not had any issues; nobody’s even wanted to watch the games,” Myers said.
Last week’s event drew many positive responses, according to Myers. Several even stopped to join in.
“It was an overwhelmingly awesome response. People that pulled off the interstate, honked and waved at us,” he said.