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As the National Anthem commences, we as military families across the United States of America immediately move our attention to the flag and pay our respects. It is cultural on every level of being American; as cultural as reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in classrooms, it is a time-honored tradition.

But in today’s American society, we live in a culture where people are kneeling and rebelling against the flag and the National Anthem to protest oppression in our society. So, the true question is, is it okay to kneel?

The American flag stands for patriotism and freedom, ironically, it allows for the freedom to kneel. And our citizens have the right to protest, stand or not stand, to kneel, and pay zero tribute to our nation if they so choose. And what many people, far-left, far-right, and in between, the debate is being misconstrued. It is not about whether someone has the right to kneel, but rather what is the correct and right way to protest oppression. So, another question is, when you show no respect to the nation’s symbol of freedom, is it showing that you disrespect the men and women who have sacrificed their freedoms to fight for the right to protest?

Those who have given the ultimate sacrifice, families that have given the ultimate sacrifice, and servicemen and women who have given limbs, cognitive abilities, and their own personal freedoms, are arguing that there must be some other way to protest. If this country has oppression, and serves social injustice to our citizens, could there not be a more rational and respectful way to protest?

In all the social media and online forums, I have not seen one rationally arguing that the right to protest is the offense, or that their right to protest should be taken away. But many military families are arguing that it’s the method, and the manner, of that protest that isn’t disrespecting the symbol of freedom, it’s disrespecting those who have fought for that freedom FOR you to protest.

In my opinion, it is never okay to kneel.

When we bring home our service members who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, we don’t kneel at the American flag laying over the caskets to protest the oppression of the American people, so why would we at a football game? Because you cannot see the caskets? You cannot see anything other than what the media shows you of what our servicemen and women do overseas to give us the right to the freedoms of protest? The flag isn’t a symbol of the people and society causing oppression, it’s the symbol of freedom. And that very freedom is giving you the right to protest.

Protest if you choose. Being an American has given you the right to do so, but do it with full knowledge that the blood of every veteran and active-duty service member runs through the red stripes on that flag, and that their courage and valor runs through those 50 stars.

Take it from one military wife. My husband, who is currently an active-duty Sailor in the United States Navy, serves our nation. It takes him away from home, it takes him away from his family. He serves this country, the country that he loves, to bring every citizen the freedoms they have today. And when you kneel, you disrespect him, his brothers and sisters overseas, and my family.

Protest. But honor him, and the United States of America while doing so.

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Maggie-Mae Laufman
One of eleven siblings, Maggie-Mae Laufman was raised in Portland, Oregon in a primarily Democrat family. In 2013, she moved to California to pursue her career. She found her home at Applied Resource Insurance Solutions as the Marketing Director, and soon became a founding member of the SCV Business Marketing Group—a group that hosts networking socials benefiting local non-profits such as Operation Gratitude. In 2016, Maggie-Mae Laufman married, Petty Officer Second Class Kyle Gaughan—an active duty sailor in the United States Navy, who serves at Pt. Mugu in Ventura County. Maggie-Mae is an active participant in many military non-profits, and has recently joined the Board of the SCV Young Republicans. Her role as a military wife, and a loud voice in the community of Santa Clarita, gives her the opportunity to advocate for military and veteran affairs locally and abroad. She resides in Valencia.