My Turn: More understanding, less vitriol needed for national anthem debate

You can almost feel the anger on social media as Facebook friends and Twitter followers exchanged vitriol about the proper way to honor the country during the national anthem.

This issue is certainly not new, but it took a turn when the president weighed in on the topic during a political rally. And he is following it up with his infamous tweets.

I don't participate in that kind of thing. For me, the flag and the national anthem represent freedom and everything good we aspire to be as a nation. It does not stand for police brutality or a president that makes thoughtless statements. And for those reasons, I will always choose to stand.

However, I am only one person. That's my take and I'm entitled to it. What I am not entitled to do is to tell you or anyone else how to perceive those symbols.  And I believe that's part of what makes this country so great. We are blessed to be able to live in a place where we are free to formulate our own opinions and speak about them freely.

That's where some people have problems. And my advice to those folks…you can learn a lot more through understanding than you can from unfriending.
That's my turn. Now it's your turn. To comment on this segment, or anything else, email me at

Copyright 2017 WECT. All rights reserved.

Emailed comments from viewers:

So now, the NFL locking arms is the going to make a difference against "police brutality?"  Unity happens when the WHOLE is bound together (united)... not when the Hollywood-like and very wealthy NFL players and owners decide to garner attraction by pushing a trendy police brutality mantra just because they can... and can afford to.   I don't want them representing me.  I'd be curious to learn how many of them (or us) actually know (not know of) any one of the implied thousands who have been "brutalized" by the police? And what were the truthful circumstances involved?

So what's next?  Rid the nation of all law enforcement because of some activist's hope for total civil disobedience?  I don't want them speaking for me either.  Just guessing: I imagine that the average person is probably more like to get struck by lightning than by a police officer. The recent NFL show has done nothing but piled more hate wood on a fire that has grown far larger than it ever deserved.  Perhaps we can learn from last weekend's service at the predominately black church, St. Luke's in Wilmington (no, I am not a black member. I am an outsider and Caucasian).  There, people of all colors sat side by side (surrounded by all sorts of police) bound together in unity... to APPRECIATE and THANK our amazing law enforcement community.  Thanks St. Luke's for demonstrating to the NFL and our area what real and positive unity is! hb


I dropped ESPN and will no longer watch any shows associated with the National Football League. My son in law is a disabled Army Veteran and my son served this country for 4 years. The blatant disrespect for our flag, National Anthem, and those who fought to protect our freedoms is inexcusable. This organization should be ashamed of the example they have set for our young people. As a family we loved supporting and watching our Carolina Panthers play but we will sit out this season in respect for those who paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we all enjoy as Americans.


I am a loyal WECT watcher and friend of Francis 
Weller.  I must say that I was dissappointed in your "lack of position" or "political correctness" exhibited in your "My Turn" piece tonight!
I agree with you that our freedom of expression and right to "protest" is a foundation of our Constitution.  However, I strongly disagree with professional athletes, hollywood stars and anyone using their work profession as a stage to demonstrate their beliefs, just because they have a big audience to do so!  Let them march, write, or participate in specific events that further their dedication and beliefs.
Disrespecting our flag and the National Anthem, for which so many have, and continue to make, the ultimate sacrifice of life and limb, IS JUST NOT RIGHT!
Thank you for listening!


I agree that the professional NFL players and all peoples have a right to protest inequality.

But while they are dressed in team uniforms, hired to play the game, and are working for their employers they do not have said right.  That can protest own their time.


I have agreed with you on most of your My Turn - Your Turn comments.  But not tonight.
Other than your slams on Trump (which I would guess were NBC influenced) you were more wishy washy than I have ever seen you.   I also do not like Trump's tweeting. but he is not the issue.  What the NFL players are doing is.
Understand please that I am 100% in favor of equality in all directions.  But I disagree with what is going on within professional football.  I do not believe this is the right place for this debate.  I think it is divisive and will do more harm than good.
While I have lived in the east for about 37 years, and been in Southeast NC for nearly 19 years, I am an 80 year old native of Oakland CA and have been a Raiders fan since they came into existence.  I was at Sunday night's game and was humiliated by what the majority of Raiders did.  They insulted our National Anthem and those who defend their right to freedom of speech.  The majority of the Redskins stood, decently and rightfully so.  I admired them.    I have never seen an offensive line mulled over as the Raiders line was by the Redskins.   Derek Carr stood.  Did they to that intentionally because he stood?   If they did and that can be proved, I will agree 100% with Trump in saying they should be fired.
I have a son who is career military.  He earns pennies compared to the millions that the players earn.  And the players and apparently the NFL, are disrespectful of that.  They show no gratitude and insult our military by disrespecting our flag and our National Anthem.  How sickening that is.  If they really mean what their purpose is, again I say they are on the wrong platform in their endeavors.
Before you comment again.  I ask 2 things of you.  1) Read Section 36, Section 172 of the US Code.    2) I ask you to click on this link and watch/listen to the videos:      How nice.  The NFL players should have been under this coach.


For me it all started in the 70's at my elementary school. Soon after the first bell rang, as a class we would all stand with our right hand over our hearts and say the pledge of allegiance to The Flag! I also remember playing little league baseball and standing for the National Anthem. The act of pledging allegiance to The Flag and standing for the National Anthem was instilled to me and others that it was not only proper to give reverence to my country, flag and to those who have fought, served and died for my freedom, it also was the right thing to do. The USA Flag and National Anthem were not provided to us to use as a protesting tool. They were given to us as a reminder of the sacrifices made so that we can continue to live in freedom. With that said there is no reason whatsoever for anyone to take a knee or sit down during the playing of the National Anthem. To do so is disrespectful and dishonorable towards our men and women in the military, and therefore no US citizen has the right to kneel or sit during the playing of the National Anthem, PERIOD!


One point that has been mostly missed in the NFL/Anthem debate is whether a fan who has paid dearly for a seat any sporting event should be subjected to any type of protest.  We go to these events to cheer on our team and get away from the more serious events occurring in our lives.  To then force us to be a party to a protest is just plain wrong.

Want to protest, do it off the playing field where I can choose whether or not to participate.


First thank you for allowing me an opportunity to share my opinion. 
I'm proud of our Flag and our National Anthem, that remind me of our Freedoms and Privileges guaranteed in our Constitution. I'm so very grateful for those throughout our Nations history who have fought, worked and died to defend and guarantee those freedoms. Including especially those who do so today.
That Flag and Anthem and what they represent are symbols to bring us all together as a Nation, despite our differences. The National Anthem is a time that we should humbly and reverently show unity and respect for our Nation, its hero's, and rember the sacrifices of so many throughout the years for our great Country and our way of life.

There is a time and a place for all things, even freedom of speech and protest. During the presentation of our Flag and our National Anthem is not the time or place. For me the raising of our Nations Flag, its symbol of Freedom, and the singing of the National Anthem is a sacred time, a time for me to stand, with my hand over my heart to honor and respect all that these symbols truly mean and for those who have sacrificed so much for our Nation to make it possible.

Finally, I can only imagine the financial consequences I would experience if I chose to stand in the doorway of my business and force my customers to listen to my OPINIONS of our Country's problems or witness the disrespect of something as sacred as our Flag. I'm sure if I did so everyone wouldn't agree with my opinions and my business would suffer significantly as a result. The NFL, the Oscars, etc are entertainment driven organizations that rely on our funding. So I refuse to "do business with them if they insist on standing in their doors and force me to listen to their opinions and watch while they disrespect our Country and Flag". My small part of their funding has ceased.

Thanks for my turn, and truly may God Bless America.


I agree with you on Standing for our flag.  The flag was not made to represent race, problems with Law enforcement or other trivial things that is being said about it.  Men died for that flag to keep us that live in these United Stated, FREE!  I feel that if you cannot respect our Flag, then find a country where you can respect their flag.
Just my turn!!


THANKS to those Sports Athletes who decided to disrespect Our Country's Flag and National Anthem by kneeling IS further promoting HATRED in Our Country , which IS NOW being imitated by our youth in schools all over the USA. THOSE ATHLETES are shameful for leading our youth in the wrong direction and should be labeled as "POOR EXAMPLES"of Good behavior !