‘It is a flag for everyone, of every color, of every race, of every creed, and of every orientation, but the privilege of living under this flag does not come without cost. Nor should it come without respect …’
As the nation remains locked in heated debate over NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest, University of Texas system Chancellor William McRaven has penned a memo to campus leaders reminding them of his preference that coaches and student athletes respect the American flag.
Before becoming chancellor of the UT System in January 2015, McRaven spent 37 years in the U.S. Navy and commanded the team that killed Osama bin Laden.
In January of this year, McRaven penned a memo asking campus coaching staffs to encourage players to stand up straight, face the flag, and place their hand over their heart when the anthem is played.
He reiterated his stance in an Aug. 29 memo to campus presidents and athletic directors of the University of Texas system.
“I spent 37 years defending freedom of speech and freedom of expression,” McRaven wrote. “Nothing is more important to this democracy. Nothing! However, while no one should be compelled to stand, they should recognize that by sitting in protest to the flag they are disrespecting everyone who sacrificed to make this country what it is today — as imperfect as it might be.”
“Those that believe the flag represents oppression should remember all the Americans who fought to eliminate bigotry, racism, sexism, imperialism, communism, and terrorism,” the memo continued. “The flag rode with the Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th, 10th, 24th and 25th Calvary and Infantry Regiments. It was carried by the suffragists down the streets of New York City. It flew with the Tuskegee Airmen of WWII. It was planted in the fields where Cesar Chavez spoke. It marched with Martin Luther King Jr. It rocketed into space on the shoulder patches of women, gays, Hispanic, Asian and African American astronauts.”
“… It is a flag for everyone, of every color, of every race, of every creed, and of every orientation, but the privilege of living under this flag does not come without cost. Nor should it come without respect,” McRaven added. “The nation and everything it strives for is embodied in the American flag. We strive to be more inclusive. We strive to be more understanding. We strive to fix the problems that plague our society.”
“But in striving to do so, we must have a common bond; some symbol that reminds us of our past struggles and propels us to a brighter, more enlightened future. That symbol is the American flag.”
The chancellor concluded his memo by asking athletic directors to convey his message to the teams.
“The young student-athletes are future leaders of this nation,” McRaven stated. “By showing respect for the flag, they are making it possible for America to be everything we dreamed it could be.”