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Cheerleaders took a knee during the national anthem, and veterans are not happy about it


CORAOPOLIS, Pa. — Several high school cheerleaders' decision to take a knee Friday night while a VFW Color Guard performed at Cornell High School in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, isn't sitting well with some, especially military veterans.

The gesture has made headlines in recent weeks because of NFL player Colin Kaepernick who has refused to stand while the national anthem is played in protest of racial injustice.

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"They don't know what they are doing, them young kids. They don't know what they are doing," WWII Army veteran Danny Larocco said.

See related tweets:

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Veterans furious after cheerleaders kneel during national anthem
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Veterans furious after cheerleaders kneel during national anthem
High school cheerleaders kneel during national anthem, upset vets https://t.co/tZIXbxIbSS @DRUDGE_REPORT https://t.co/DTfpTtzAPz
Cornell HS cheerleaders defend decision to kneel during national anthem, say they never meant to disrespect vets… https://t.co/Tvl2IlCPoN
Vets Have 'Tears in Their Eyes' Talking About Cheerleaders Taking Knee During National Anthem… https://t.co/34aSxyZ5qA
Veterans upset over HS cheerleaders taking knee during National Anthem https://t.co/Xk2IeogTkW https://t.co/m1wCGfOvPg
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Larocco said he didn't take the photo of the cheerleaders kneeling that has circulated online, but he was there in-person. He said that he and his fellow veterans of VFW 402 in Coraopolis were invited to present the colors before the game.

Instead of standing like everyone else on the field and in the stands 12 out of 15 cheerleaders kneeled, Larocco said.

"I was 16 when I enlisted, fighting Japanese. To see them do that and disgrace Coraopolis and that school, it made me sick," the military veteran said.

Cornell School District Superintendent Aaron Thomas, however, said he's standing by his students' decision to take a knee.

"This is a classic case that dates back to the '60s, and symbolic speech is protected speech," he said.

Thomas said the district supports the students' right to free speech, and he said that he was aware some in the cheerleading squad were going to take a knee in a public protest. Thomas, though, said he's the first to admit their timing could have been better.

"I apologize to those individuals on Friday night that I saw. Ideally could this have happened on another night? Yeah, but it happened on the night that it did (and) it created healthy discussion within (the) walls of our building," the superintendent said.

Larocco said it all comes down to respect.

"My friends and everybody else that served in the service, they have that right to be respected. We love our flag very much. We fought for it," he said.

Thomas said he cannot predict whether the cheerleaders will continue their protest at the next home game, but he said to be on the safe side, security will be increased.

RELATED: These cheerleaders likely got their inspiration from these famous athletes:

9 PHOTOS
Colin Kaepernick and more pro athletes protesting during the national anthem
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Colin Kaepernick and more pro athletes protesting during the national anthem
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 12: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers kneels in protest during the national anthem prior to playing the Los Angeles Rams in their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on September 12, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 02: (L-R) Rashard Robinson #33, Antoine Bethea #41, and Jaquiski Tartt #29 of the San Francisco 49ers raise their fists in protest during the national anthem prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi's Stadium on October 2, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 25: Brandon Marshall #54 of the Denver Broncos takes a knee in protest during the National Anthem before the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio.The Broncos defeated the Bengals 29-17. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 22: Duane Brown #76 of the Houston Texans raises his fist during the national anthem before the game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 18: Kenny Stills #10 of the Miami Dolphins (C) kneels during the national anthem before the game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Philadelphia Eagles players Steven Means (51), Malcolm Jenkins (27) and Ron Brooks (33) raise their fists in the air during the national anthem for a game against the Chicago Bears on Monday, Sept. 19, 2016 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Sep 8, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos inside linebacker Brandon Marshall (54) kneels during the national anthem next to defensive end Jared Crick (93) and defensive tackle Billy Winn (97) and defensive tackle Adam Gotsis (99) before the game against the Carolina Panthers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 12: Kenny Britt #18 and Robert Quinn #94 of the Los Angeles Rams raise their fists in protest prior to playing the San Francisco 49ers in their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on September 12, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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