FOXBORO (CBS) — Dozens of veterans and Gold Star parents roared past Gillette Stadium on their motorcycles Sunday with their flags furling in the wind in protest of NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem.
The patriotic and peaceful rolling rally was in response to players across the league–including several members of the Patriots–kneeling during the anthem last Sunday to protest issues of social inequality and racial injustice.
“We’re not protesting the Patriots or anything like this. This is just to reclaim our national anthem,” one participant said.
Organizer Joe Abasciano said it was about taking “a negative and divisive moment” and making it a positive, teaching one.
Beverly Franklin, a Gold Star mother who lost her son to suicide, was part of the rally, and explained what she found disrespectful about the protests.
“Social injustice? Pick another time to do it, but not during the anthem,” she told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Kim Tunnicliffe. “When that anthem goes on, you should be standing up, showing respect.”
Franklin also said to WBZ-TV’s Paul Burton, “The only time we take the knee is for the fallen. And when you take that knee that shows disrespect. If they want to be political, if they want to fight injustices that’s fine, you take your knee before, you take your knee after but you do not take your knee during that national anthem. It’s wrong. You might have the right to but that doesn’t mean that you necessarily should.”
She added that when players link arms during the anthem, as the Patriots did Sunday, that is okay because they are standing at attention.
The rally, which was organized “to show support for our National Anthem, Armed Forces, Gold Star Families and First Responders,” started rolling toward Gillette from the American Legion Post 106 in Sharon.
“I stand for Old Glory, and all the sacrifices made and associated with it, and I’ll be darned if these guys are gonna behave the way they’ve been behaving,” said one rider.
Another Gold Star mother who lost her son in the Iraq war said she felt the kneeling was disrespectful to her child and others who died for our country.
“These football players, probably never a day in their life ever served in the military, and they make millions for playing a game,” she said. “We all feel it’s a slap in the face and a kick in the teeth to us. It’s like we lost our sons and daughters for nothing. It’s like spitting or stomping on the flag.”
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Kim Tunnicliffe reports