Canada's National Anthem: Be Respectful, Whether You Stand, Sit, Or Kneel
Up To Five Minutes Out Of The Day - That's It
When the Canadian national anthem comes on our morning announcements, I expect two things of students - removal of hats, and quiet.
Students can choose, if they're able, whether or not to stand. That's a matter of physical capability and a matter of belief. My understanding is there are some religious beliefs that might preclude whether or not someone can or should stand for a national anthem, and I respect that. I also respect a student's right to choose, as Colin Kaepernick has done, whether or not to kneel during the performance of the anthem. In Kaepernick's case, and that of other athletes who have joined him to much divisiveness in the United States, my understanding is he is taking a knee for two reasons - because it is a gesture of greater respect and to protest the treatment of African Americans by police forces in the States.
Regardless of your belief or ability to stand for the national anthem, the people who kneel or even sit due to personal conviction or physical ability are doing so respectfully. They are not sitting there checking their phones for social media updates; they aren't texting their partners or kids various messages; they aren't taking selfies. They're quiet until the anthem is finished, and then they go about what they came to do.
In the case of the Canadian national anthem, the most common version played has a runtime of about a minute and a half. If a version with all four verses is played, you're looking at about four and a half minutes or more.
There are people who will sit and whisper to each other for the duration of the anthem, which I have never understood. I don't care if it's the anthem for your country or for someone else's; this is not a pop song that's being played for money. It's not a concert that's brought the world to a halt; it's an anthem that takes anywhere from one and a half to five minutes out of your day to sit or stand quietly for.
We are not so busy that we can't take that time to stop whatever it is we're doing to show that little bit of respect. Sit or kneel if you need to - we can only do what we can do, right? Even if you're refraining from standing for the anthem due to a desire to protest, take a signal from those who are also protesting and still maintain that respectful posture. While soldiers did fight for your country, they also fought for your right to protest whatever's going on, so make sure you're respectful about it by being quiet, removing your hat, and staying off your phone.
We're coming up fast on Remembrance Day - Veterans' Day for the United States. While I do understand the uproar about people taking a knee to an extent, don't we also kneel to pray in many cases? I realize that Kaepernick's initial kneel was, in his reported view at least, partly out of protest, but there are several instances where kneeling is one of the biggest forms of respect. Kneeling for prayer is certainly one of the biggest gestures of respect we've got. We might also kneel in order to express sincere gratitude.
Why am I not insisting that everyone should be standing, regardless of belief or ability? Well, while I understand that soldiers fought and died for our freedoms - my dad was in the military for nearly 25 years, and my husband served almost 30 - there's also the belief that these men and women who wore and continue to wear a military uniform for our freedoms also have fought for our rights to protest. They fought for our right to kneel in prayer. They fought for those who simply can't physically stand up anymore to honor their country by doing what they can to honor it.
That's why I'm saying remove hats, stay off the devices, and stay quiet. While it is traditional - and many would say expected - to stand for anyone's national anthem, not everyone can do that, for one reason or another. We need to respect that while we might stand for the anthem, soldiers did also fight for the rights of others to sit or kneel respectfully during that anthem, for one reason or another.