A member of the U.S. military has just joined Colin Kaepernick's protest.

On Aug. 26, 2016, San Fransisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick declined to stand for the national anthem. Whether he wanted to or not, he started a movement.  

Kaepernick (right) and fellow protestor Eric Reid. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images.

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL Media. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."


In the very next game, other players joined Kaepernick's protest. Some from the opposing team. By week three, there was a long list of NFL players from franchises across the country who had demonstrated or voiced their support.

Then college teams, the WNBA, and high school teams joined in, and before long, the movement had spread far and wide enough to be lampooned on "South Park."

Members of the Miami Dolphins kneeling in protest in September. Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images.

Recently, another individual decided to join the cause: U.S. Navy Intelligence Specialist 2nd Class Janaye Ervin.

Ervin explained her actions in a Facebook post that is now going viral.

"On Sept. 19, 2016, while in uniform, I made the conscious decision to not stand for the Star Spangled Banner because I feel like a hypocrite, singing about "land of the free" when, I know that only applies to some Americans," Ervin wrote.

My fellow Americans, I have been proudly serving in the US Navy Reserve Force since November 2008. I have pledged to...

Posted by Janaye Ervin on Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Ervin is the second member of the U.S. military to publicly participate in the national anthem protest. And the act has already become extremely controversial.  

The first was Lt. Commander Kate Meadows, also a Navy sailor, who posted a video on Facebook of her sitting on a bench through the morning colors ceremony.

Considering the fact that people were up in arms over a football player protesting the national anthem, members of the military joining in are bound to push some buttons.

Photo by James G. Pinsky/U.S. Navy via Getty Images.

In fact, Kate Meadows has reportedly faced disciplinary action and the Navy published guidelines warning their members not to join in. Ervin says she's lost security clearance and has been threatened with jail time.

A quick look at a comments section online also reveals the expected level of outrage over a member of the military refusing to stand for the anthem of the country they serve.

On the surface, it's understandable. Not paying tribute to your country's flag or anthem does seem unpatriotic.

And we do kind of expect our military to be dripping with the most unwavering patriotism. After all, they're the ones who go out and fight every day for our freedom to protest in the first place.

But there's something much bigger going on here.  

One of the Navy's mottos is "Non sibi sed patriae," meaning "not for self, but country."

Refusing to stand for the national anthem isn't about Colin Kaepernick, and it's not about Kate Meadows or Janaye Ervin or anyone else. It's about the country. It's about giving a voice to the millions who feel that theirs has been silenced or ignored.

Protestors facing off with police in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images.

It's about recognizing a systemic injustice in a country that claims to be the land of the free and acknowledging that we can do a better job at living up to that promise.

In a way, it's the most brave and patriotic thing you can do.

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less