Soldiers speak out on Kaepernick: His protest 'makes him more American than anyone'

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...

Veterans stand behind NFL star's protest

While some have called it a "slap in the face" to the military for NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick to sit in silent protest during the national anthem before recent preseason games, many veterans do not see it that way.

"He is exercising his constitutional right, and I'm glad that he's doing it," Benjamin Starks, a veteran of both the US Navy and the US Army Reserve, told Business Insider.

Kaepernick sparked controversy last week after he was seen on the sideline sitting in silence during the national anthem before a preseason game against the Packers. He later said he was "not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color."

Photos of Colin Kaepernick through his career

45 PHOTOS
Colin Kaepernick
See Gallery
Colin Kaepernick
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers congratulates Brandon Marshall #15 of the Chicago Bears following the game at Levi Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. The Bears defeated the 49ers 28-20. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers congratulates Brandon Marshall #15 of the Chicago Bears following the game at Levi Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. The Bears defeated the 49ers 28-20. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers congratulates Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears following the game at Levi Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. The Bears defeated the 49ers 28-20. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) is tackled by Chicago Bears defensive end Lamarr Houston (99), cornerback Tim Jennings (26) and free safety Ryan Mundy (21) during the first quarter of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
San Francisco 49ers' Colin Kaepernick throws a pass as he warms up prior to an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) passes against the Dallas Cowboys during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick warms up before an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick throws the ball before an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick walks off the field after an NFL preseason football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014, in Baltimore. Baltimore won 23-3. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick throws during an NFL football training camp on Friday, July 25, 2014, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick prepares to throw during an NFL football training camp on Thursday, July 24, 2014, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick gets help stretching during an NFL football training camp on Thursday, July 24, 2014, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo)
San Francisco 49ers' Colin Kaepernick arrives at the ESPY Awards at the Nokia Theatre on Wednesday, July 16, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
San Francisco 49ers' Colin Kaepernick arrives at the ESPY Awards at the Nokia Theatre on Wednesday, July 16, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Colin Kaepernick and Chrissy Teigen present the award for best female athlete at the ESPY Awards at the Nokia Theatre on Wednesday, July 16, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)
GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 21: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers throws a pass during the second quarter of the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 21, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 21: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick calls a play during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on September 21, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers runs drills on the field prior to the game against the Chicago Bears at Levi Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. The Bears defeated the 49ers 28-20. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers stands on the field prior to the game against the Chicago Bears at Levi Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. The Bears defeated the 49ers 28-20. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers rushes during the game against the Chicago Bears at Levi Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. The Bears defeated the 49ers 28-20. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers rushes during the game against the Chicago Bears at Levi Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. The Bears defeated the 49ers 28-20. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers rushes during the game against the Chicago Bears at Levi Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. The Bears defeated the 49ers 28-20. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers rushes during the game against the Chicago Bears at Levi Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. The Bears defeated the 49ers 28-20. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers throws an interception during the game against the Chicago Bears at Levi Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. The Bears defeated the 49ers 28-20. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers throws an interception during the game against the Chicago Bears at Levi Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. The Bears defeated the 49ers 28-20. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Blaine Gabbert #2 and Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers head to the field prior to the game against the Chicago Bears at Levi Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. The Bears defeated the 49ers 28-20. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers drops back to pass against the Chicago Bears at Levi's Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers looks on during the second quarter of their game against the Chicago Bears at Levi's Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers looks on during the first quarter of their game against the Chicago Bears at Levi's Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers looks on during the first quarter of their game against the Chicago Bears at Levi's Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers looks to pass during the first quarter of a game against the Chicago Bears at Levi's Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 07: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers during the NFL game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on September 7, 2014 in Arlington, Texas. The 49ers defeated the Cowboys 28-17. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX- AUGUST 28: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers on the sidelines agains the Houston Texans in a pre-season NFL game on August 28, 2014 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 28: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up before playing the Houston Texans in a pre-season game at Reliant Stadium on August 28, 2014 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 28: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up before playing the Houston Texans in a pre-season game at Reliant Stadium on August 28, 2014 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 28: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up before playing the Houston Texans in a pre-season game at Reliant Stadium on August 28, 2014 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 28: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up before playing the Houston Texans in a pre-season game at Reliant Stadium on August 28, 2014 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 28: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up before playing the Houston Texans in a pre-season game at Reliant Stadium on August 28, 2014 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Houston, Texas, USA. 28th Aug, 2014. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) prior to an NFL preseason game between the Houston Texans and the San Francisco 49ers at NRG Stadium in Houston, TX on August 28th, 2014. © Trask Smith/ZUMA Wire/Alamy Live News
April 29, 2011 - Turlock, California, U.S. - (Debbie Noda/dnoda@modbee.com) - Parents Teresa and Rick with their son Colin Kaepernick wearing a 49er cap at their Turlock home after in the 2nd round of the NFL draft he was picked by the San Francisco. (Credit Image: © Debbie Noda/Modesto Bee/ZUMAPRE
April 29, 2011 - Turlock, California, U.S. - (Debbie Noda/dnoda@modbee.com) - Colin Kaepernick in the 2nd round of the NFL drafted by the San Francisco 49ers. (Credit Image: © Debbie Noda/Modesto Bee/ZUMAPRESS.com)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick speaks during a press conference at the New Orleans Marriott in New Orleans, Louisiana, Sunday, January 27, 2012. The 49ers will face the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on Feb. 3. (Jane Tyska/Oakland Tribune/MCT)
Turlock, CA, USA. 2nd May, 2014. Colin Kaepernick talks with on of the teens at Jessica's House in Turlock CA during a quick visit. Jessica's House provides free support in a safe place for children, teen and their families grieving a death. © Marty Bicek/ZUMAPRESS.com/Alamy Live News
Turlock, CA, USA. 2nd May, 2014. Colin Kaepernick took a second to pose for a group photo with several kids at Jessica's House in Turlock CA. Jessica's House provides free support in a safe place for children, teen and their families grieving a death. © Marty Bicek/ZUMAPRESS.com/Alamy Live News
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

He continued his protest Thursday night, this time taking a knee during the national anthem before a preseason game against the Chargers.

His choice to sit during the anthem sparked plenty of debate. Even Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump chimed in, along with Democratic vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine. And earlier this week, a new hashtag — #VeteransForKaepernick — emerged in his support on Twitter, with many veterans saying the 49ers quarterback's right to free speech was exactly what they swore to defend.

Business Insider asked veterans for their thoughts on Kaepernick, and many were happy to share their views (lightly edited for clarity), pro or con. And one thing became very clear: The opinions of veterans can greatly vary.

Tom Baker

"Colin sat down and exercised his right to protest, which is something that I feel like we all swore an oath to defend," said Tom Baker, a Navy veteran who served in the Iraq War.

"I also agree with the statements he made. We don't respect the rights of black and brown people."

"The people that are the most angry are the same people screaming at Obama for his use of executive actions, and people that probably think that the right to bear arms is the only thing in the Bill of Rights."

"I am mostly just tired of pundits and non-veterans using us as a way to throw shade on someone for their actions."

"The whole narrative of, 'You're disrespecting veterans and those who sacrificed' is bulls---."

"I really just want these people to stop telling us what we think; to stop putting words in our mouths, and to really listen to us. We've been at war for 15 years."

"I don't think I have any veteran friends that still think that Iraq was a good idea. Where is all the outrage about the Iraq War? Where is our Chilcot [the UK investigation into the war]?"

"If these people truly gave a sh-- about us veterans they would've kicked down the doors on the Capitol and demanded a real inquiry into the deaths at the [Department of Veterans Affairs] and the insane number of veterans committing suicide."

Nick Stenovic

"For me it is offensive at the least and painful at the most to see someone disrespect the flag or anthem, as they have become linked to the sacrifices that I have seen made in their name," said Nick Stefanovic, a Marine Corps infantry veteran who deployed twice to Afghanistan.

"I am tired of this 'bringing awareness' crap. I think it does nothing but bring attention to the person trying to do it. It is a way is saying 'hey look at me, I'm doing something good' without actually having to do something."

"Awareness has been brought, and there is nobody who is unaware that our society is not equal."

"There are those who are able to see that we have things like systemic racism, police brutality, and unequal pay for women. There are those who live in denial because it makes them feel guilty. And there are those who fight this inequality by being discriminatory themselves — but there are none who are unaware."

"There are ways to act on these issues without offending others. I have always for some reason had a strong reaction to the injustice and oppression brought on innocent Muslims by Islamic theocracy. I acted, and I went to Afghanistan and can say that the regions I was in were better when I left than when I got there. I didn't have to go and burn the Quran. I attacked the problem."

"We need more attacking the problem and less 'bringing awareness.'"

"Now anyone is free to burn the flag, sit for the anthem, burn a bible, or burn a Quran, but that does not justify there offensiveness. There is a lot of injustice out there and a need for those who will fight it."

"In the end, my opinion is that this football player took attention away from the actual problem and put the spotlight on himself. If you notice, nobody is talking about racial inequality right now. They are all focused on whether his protest was right or wrong."

RELATED: Veterans at sporting events

6 PHOTOS
Veterans at sporting events
See Gallery
Veterans at sporting events
KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 08: Military veteran Hugh 'Coach' Dunn throws out the ceremonial first pitch prior to game one of the American League Division Series between the Kansas City Royals and the Houston Astros at Kauffman Stadium on October 8, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - AUGUST 23: Veterans unveil a new U.S. Postal Sevice stamp before a baseball game between the San Diego Padres and the St. Louis Cardinals at Petco Park August 23, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 19: World War II veteran and National Spokesman for the 78th Fighter Squadron Jerry Yellin shakes hands with Joe Maddon #70 of the Chicago Cubs before the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Detroit Tigers at Wrigley Field on August 19, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - JULY 04: The field is lined with United States Military Veterans during a pre-game ceremony to honor Independence Day prior to the game between the Detroit Tigers and the Toronto Blue Jays at Comerica Park on July 4, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Blue Jays 8-3. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 30: (L-R) former NASA astronaut and commander of the Apollo 13 mission, Captain James A. Lovell, Vietnam veteran Captain Charles Pyne and Brian Graf of the US Air Force, stand next to singer Jim Cornelison as the national anthem is sung prior to the NHL game between the Los Angeles Kings and the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on March 30, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

Ronnie Brown

"Being a vet, and a cop now, that man did nothing to me — or anyone else for that fact — aside from exercise his rights as an American citizen," said Ronnie Brown, a Marine Corps infantry veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"There's one issue I see with what the guy did, and that is a lot of cherry picking. By that, I mean it's silly how people can support one person who voiced their opinion as long as what is being said is something they agree with. But let it be something that the masses don't agree with, and now you're a terrorist. You can't condone one and then turn right around and condemn the other."

"Being a vet, and a cop now, that man did nothing to me — or anyone else for that fact — aside from exercise his rights as an American citizen."

"The entitled crowd these days — which sadly includes a lot of vets and police officers — want this guy to apologize to vet groups, police unions, God, Megatron, and everything that falls in between."

"And why?"

"Are you demanding an apology from a man that did what he is free to do? Is that what they think freedom is? Is that what they think this country was based on?"

Benjamin Starks

"He is exercising his constitutional right and I'm glad that he's doing it," said Benjamin Starks, a veteran of both the US Navy and US Army Reserve.

"If you think he's disrespecting veterans or America, he's not. He is peacefully protesting, making people feel uncomfortable, and bringing press to an issue we should have already been aware of."

"Innocent people of color have died more to the hands of police then they have at the hands of terrorists, so excuse me while I relish the fact that a successful person of color protests in a manner that makes white people in this country feel uncomfortable."

"His peaceful protest makes him more American than anyone sitting behind the computer bitching about it. He exercised his right as an American, and I applaud him."

Jeff White

"I think it is every American's right and duty to point out what is wrong," said Jeff White, an Army veteran who served for four years during the 1980s.

"Colin has the right to ignore whatever he wants. Anyone who says otherwise does not know anything about freedom."

Veterans are Tweeting Their Support for Colin Kaepernick

Omar Madrigal

"I believe Colin has every right to protest in whatever way he chooses," said Omar Madrigal, a Marine Corps veteran.

"I cannot pick which constitutional rights to defend, as I took an oath to protect the Constitution as a whole. I personally would not protest in that manner, [and I see it as] no different than those who truly do despicable things like the Westboro Baptist Church protesting veteran's funerals."

"But in the words of Evelyn Beatrice Hall, 'I may not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.'"

"I am more perturbed about the extreme patriotism bordering on nationalism and nativism trending in this country. The so-called 'patriots' are angry at those who don't agree with their version of America."

"Ironically, forced patriotism begins where freedom ends. In that version of America, we're no better than those countries that we are in conflict with."

Theodore Robinson

"The oath I took was to defend the Constitution, not the [national] anthem," said Theodore Robinson, a US Navy veteran of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

"The Constitution says that peaceful protest is the right of all citizens, and the issues Mr. Kaepernick is protesting have been going on for the entirety of this nation's history."

"It's unacceptable that human beings — citizens of this country — are still being treated as less than."

"I am also infuriated by the knee-jerk reaction to this straw-man argument of, 'It's not what he said, it's when/where/how he said it.' The people that fear this topic always use this when it comes up."

"Our brothers and sisters are dying in the streets, being killed by the very people that swore a similar oath to protect them. Unconscionable."

"It doesn't matter to me what Colin does or doesn't do from this point on. It's up to us, we the people, to address this problem."

"You want to talk about disrespect? Allowing this to continue is the ultimate disrespect to the Constitution, to the sacrifices, to the ideals of this nation. I'm tired of waiting for history to tell us which side of this is right. We know which side is right. It's time to do something about it."

Justin Wood

"I don't see this as disrespectful towards our country or the flag. I see it as a way that he has chosen to protest the recent events of racism in this country," said Justin Wood, an Army veteran who served in the Iraq War.

"I think we have a lot of people with the attitude of, 'If you don't like America, then leave!' The best part about all of that is those same people who have that mentality are the ones who are voting for a man who has made his whole campaign about 'making America great again.'"

"If Kaepernick would have worn that silly hat that says 'Make America Great Again' during the national anthem he would be looked at as a hero in the Fox News world."

"The whole issue that most people have against him is not his lack of patriotism but the lack of white he has on his skin."

"He demonstrated a peaceful protest. He wasn't standing in the middle of a highway causing potential accidents. He wasn't showing signs of violence. He wasn't walking around Walmart with a bazooka strapped to his back."

"He sat on the bench and stayed quiet. He did the exact thing that people have said all protesters should do, and he's being shunned for it."

"This has absolutely nothing to do with being a veteran or not. This has to do with being a human being. That being said: As a human being, I believe that he had the right to do what he did."

"We're the land of the free, right? Just as many others have stretched the 'freedom of speech' right, so has he."

"The main difference is: Well, America knows the main difference. Pull up your 'Make America Great' hat a little bit, and see for yourself."

Colin Kaepernick Pledges $1 Million To Charity

Sgt. Mak

"Do I support him? No. It's crass and he's ill-informed," said 'Sgt. Mak,' an Army veteran who served in the Iraq War. (He asked us not to use his real name to avoid potential repercussions from his current employer.)

"This guy can say what he wants to. That's the simplicity of this country. It's his God-given right."

"My parents escaped communist Yugoslavia and communist Romania. My first language was Hungarian. I learned English on the block in Flushing, Queens, and school. So if this guy makes millions upon millions, God bless him. That's the beauty of this country."

"Do I support him? No."

"It's crass and he's ill-informed. I'm guessing he's the type that sees a meme and uses that as proof in an argument."

"The black community has had issues for a couple of decades. I see it first hand, but he's not helping in any way."

"Put your money where your mouth is. He can make a difference in a small black community — even volunteer at a soup kitchen. He's blessed and lucky, so he should do more than sit down and cause controversy."

"But he has every right to. I'm a Mets fan, so I'm used to self-hatred and rejection when it comes to sports."

Daniel Schick

"Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequence," said Daniel Schick, a veteran of the US Army who left the service in 2014.

"As a representative of his league and profession, he is required to maintain a certain level of professionalism. This means showing restraint and representing his league in a positive light."

"There are numerous accounts of players being fined and disciplined for relatively minor transgressions."

"Given his status on the roster, and past performance, it puts the franchise in a peculiar situation. Whether they cut or keep him, this incident will cloud that decision, and affect team cohesion to some degree."

"If he wants to express his personal views on any political matter, he needs to do it out of uniform and not on the NFL's time."

"As a soldier, I was legally obligated to follow those guidelines, and refrained from expressing my views while in uniform."

Timothy Loranger

"I believe that Colin's protest was respectful and important. Too much attention is put on the symbols of our nation, such as the flag and a song, and not enough is put on the ideals that should define what makes our country great," said Timothy Loranger, a Marine veteran who served from 1998 to 2003.

"We should stand during the anthem, or the pledge, or salute and honor the flag when we can do so with genuine pride and respect. When we see our nation faltering, we must put aside mindless patriotism and work together to right what is wrong or unjust."

"Only then will the symbols have meaning. Thank you, Colin Kaepernick, for honoring the Constitution with a meaningful and peaceful protest."

"It takes hard work for people to be able to understand that the flag is only thread, cloth, and dye. Its value is determined by our ability to demonstrate that the country it symbolizes is truly just, fair, and free."

Jack McLaughlin

"His 'right' to sit during the national anthem guarantees my 'right' to call him an a--h--- for doing what he did, without fear of retribution," said Jack McLaughlin, a US Air Force veteran who served in the late 1970s.

"I don't like it when people use the flag or anthem for civil disobedience, but I really don't care."

"They have as much right to stand or not stand for the anthem, or respect or disrespect the flag, as the people who love this country, flag and anthem. [They can] sing, stand and even dance if they want to."

"I would like to know if the racial divide is so concerning to him, then what is he doing to make a change with all the money he makes playing a game? Maybe he should show the foundations and charities he is supporting to help turn the tide of racism instead of, or in addition to, his protest."

"I would like to add that his 'right' to sit during the national anthem guarantees my 'right' to call him an a--h--- for doing what he did, without fear of retribution."

Anonymous Navy SEAL

"I don't care about what Kaepernick did or didn't do, beyond the fact that I'm tired of hearing about it," said an active duty Navy corpsman who has served with Marines and Navy SEALs. (He asked for anonymity to avoid reprisals.)

"I think it's ironic that the people who are the most outraged — authentically or otherwise — have given him the most attention. They've rewarded the behavior with which they claim to be so incensed."

"The outrage culture is feeding itself, and growing. This is unfortunate."

More from Business Insider:

Read Full Story

People are Reading