The NFL's players protest of the national anthem reached a new fever pitch Sunday. Hundreds of players protested during the playing of the anthem after President Donald Trump waded into the controversy that has divided many Americans.
Trump inflamed passions over the now-yearslong protest during a campaign rally in Alabama on Friday night. Trump said:
"We're proud of our country. We respect our flag. Wouldn't you love to see one of our NFL owners when someone disrespects our flag to say, 'Get that son of a b***h off the field right now ... he's fired!'
When you see it, leave the stadium. I guarantee you it will end."
In response, players and entire teams have protested the anthem. The Seattle Seahawks released this statement:
Other players protested in their own way. The Pittsburgh Steelers all sat in the locker room during the anthem — with the exception of lineman Alejandro Villanueva. Villanueva is a veteran and West Point graduate, and he stood with his hand on his heart.
"I agree that America is not perfect, I agree there are lot of issues with minorities in this country, I agree we should do something about it.
But I don't know if the most effective way is to sit down when the national anthem of the country that is providing you freedom and providing you $60 million a year is the best way to do it when there are black minorities that are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan and protecting our freedom for less than $20,000 a year.
I just know I'm very thankful to be an American. I will stand very proudly and sing every single line of the national anthem every single time I hear it. I will stop whatever I'm doing because I recognize I have to be very thankful to be in this country."
Trump doubled down on the criticism of players Sunday, tweeting that there should be an NFL boycott:
However, as Trump was defending his position on the national anthem, the first lady was honoring America in a very different way. As some NFL players sat or kneeled for the anthem, Melania Trump was standing out of respect for our service members in Canada for the Invictus Games.
The Invictus Games bring together wounded service members in friendly country-to-country competition every year. According to its website:
The Invictus Games are an international sporting event for wounded, ill and injured servicemen and women, both currently serving and veterans. The Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding of and respect for those who serve their country.
The word Invictus is Latin for unconquered. It embodies the fighting spirit of the wounded, injured and ill service personnel and what these tenacious men and women can achieve, post-injury.
The games were started by Prince Harry, a veteran himself. They provide the opportunity for hundreds of wounded American service members to compete in a wide range of sports against other wounded from around the world. The 2017 American delegation was led by Melania Trump, and Sunday was the opening ceremonies for the games.
So as NFL players were boycotting the flag and national anthem, Melania Trump was standing with wounded service members, many of whom cannot stand for themselves.
Here is why:
Melania met those who could not stand for themselves:
No matter what you think of the national anthem debate, we can all agree this is how our service members should be treated. Watch the first lady's message to the athletes below:
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) September 24, 2017