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One stands, hand over heart as National Anthem plays

photo courtesy Sandro Schuh,

During NFL games this weekend, many players chose to stand, sit, kneel, or not be visible while the National Anthem was being played. The display came after President Trump spoke at an Alabama rally saying that players who knelt in protest during the National Anthem should be fired.

However, one Mississippi native is getting attention for standing by himself, hand over heart, during the anthem.

Alejandro Villanueva, an offensive tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers and former Army Ranger was the only Steeler to break from the rest of the team and come out of the tunnel on Sunday to stand for the National Anthem.

During his time with the Army Rangers, Villanueva served three tours in Afghanistan and was awarded 12 commendations, including the Bronze Star Medal with “V” for valor which he received for rescuing wounded soldiers while under enemy fire.

Mike Tomlin, Head Coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers said that the team decided not to come onto the field during the national anthem on Sunday because they could not come to agree on a proper response.

“They chose to remove themselves from it,” said Tomlin. “They were not going to be disrespectful of the anthem, so they chose not to participate, but at the same time, many of them were not going to accept the words of the President.”

The response by NFL players and Villanueva’s actions are causing people across the state to speak out.

“One of the things that is missed in all of this is that those who have been kneeling like Kaepernick and those who knelt and stood in locked arms aren’t necessarily unpatriotic by doing so,” said C.J. Rhodes, Director of student religious life at Alcorn State University. “In fact, they are in many ways being very patriotic by lifting up both their civil liberties to do so, but also in many ways calling America to be the best self that it can be. To, in the words of President Trump, to make America great again.”


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