SCRANTON -- While many professional athletes are taking a knee, the Lackawanna County Council of Veterans are taking a stand and released an official statement about recent events of NFL players protesting during the National Anthem. They are condemning those actions.
"We're the people that fought and defended the freedom to protest. There is a time and a place to protest," said Lackawanna County Council of Veterans Commander Joe Albert.
The Council of Veterans say they are not condemning athletes using their platforms to protest, but as soldiers who have served active duty, they feel protesting the flag and the National Anthem is disrespecting the country they have fought for. The protests during the Anthem continued this weekend.
"It becomes ingrained after a while. A lot of the stuff I learned while on active duty it stays with you. It doesn't go away. It's still always there," said Lackawanna County Council of Veterans Secretary Gail Moncivais.
Veterans say they have turned the games off, and that they will take part in a national boycott of all NFL games on Sunday, November 12, the day after Veterans Day.
"They have so much power. It is wrong for them to abuse their power," said Ed Faatz, the president of Friends of the Forgotten.
The Lackawanna County Veterans say protesting while in uniform is abusing that power, and that they should be doing it on their own time.
"It's very disappointing because these are idols of society and it's trickling down. It's when the high school players start to do. The college kids start to do it. Their coaches don't tolerate it," Albert said.
The council says as leaders in the community, they felt it was their duty to release this official statement.
"We, under motion from the floor and unanimously approved by the Lackawanna County Council of Veterans profoundly respects and supports the right of freedom of speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, nevertheless we strongly condemn the immature amateur behavior and actions as demonstrated by so-called "professional" athletes of the National Football League (NFL) who by kneeling and protesting during the presentation of the flag of the United States of America and the playing of our country's National Anthem we believe show great disrespect not only to our country, but to those who have served and are currently serving in defense of freedom and in some cases have made that ultimate sacrifice in the defense of freedom that we as a nation enjoy. There is a place and a time for legitimate protest in objection and belief to actions by one's government that one is in opposition to; but, we believe the start of a "game" is not that time and place. The presentation of colors, and the playing of our country's National Anthem, which is non-partisan and patriotic action as well as a recognition to those who have served, are serving and have sacrificed should be treated as such and respected as such. If for example, the owners, sponsors and players in the NFL cannot support either the flag or the country they live in, then we support the proposed national boycott scheduled for the 2017 Veterans Day weekend (Nov. 11-12) of all professional NFL presentations."