Hey, America—Is it less patriotic to kneel or to beat up a child during the national anthem?

Americans seem to have a seriously hard time not messing with freedom when it comes to the national anthem—as well as some super inconsistent definitions of patriotism.

Case in point: A Montana man has been arrested for felony assault after slamming a 13-year-old to the ground during the national anthem prior to a rodeo. The boy was wearing a baseball cap and refused to take it off when Curt James Brockway, 39, asked him to.

The boy swore at Brockway in response, and then the military veteran grabbed the boy the neck and slammed him into the ground. His injuries were so serious he had to be airlifted to a hospital two states away.

After the assault, Brockway insisted to the people at the scene that he had done the right thing because the boy was disrespecting the anthem.


So let me get this straight. It's an abomination to wear a hat or to quietly take a knee during the national anthem, right? It's disrespectful to the flag, to the country, to our veterans, to the souls of those who have died defending our freedom to protest peacefully…

Wait, I'm getting confused. Anyway, it's disrespectful.

But to beat up a child while the anthem plays is...an act of patriotism?

RELATED: No, players aren't 'protesting the anthem.' Fox News' Shep Smith explains perfectly.

Brockway's lawyer says that his client thought he was just doing what President Trump wanted him to do. "His commander in chief is telling people that if they kneel, they should be fired, or if they burn a flag, they should be punished," the lawyer told the Missoulian. "Trump never necessarily says go hurt somebody, but the message is absolutely clear."

He also claims that Brockway had suffered a traumatic brain injury in the past, which impairs his judgment. "There is the defense that his mental illness or brain injury that will be raised, along with permission given by the president," he said.

Isn't that interesting how rhetoric can affect some people.

I'm actually surprised it hasn't happened before. Half of America lost their everlovin' minds when Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national them. (Many people don't know the whole story of how Colin Kaepernick ended up kneeling instead of sitting down during the anthem in the first place. Spoiler: A veteran suggested it. You can read that story here.)

But I've always wondered about the people who get their knickers in a twist over what other people do during the anthem anyway.

I mean, aren't your eyes supposed to be on the flag the whole time during the anthem? If someone isn't making any noise, how do you even know what they're doing while the song is playing? Isn't your responsibility as a patriotic American to fix your reverent gaze on Old Glory while the anthem plays? Why are you looking around at what other people are doing?

RELATED: My anthem kneeling Twitter thread went viral. Here's what it taught me about humanity.

Plus, if someone is sitting, maybe they can't stand. If someone isn't taking off their hat, maybe they have a good reason or maybe they're just being a punk, but either way it's none of your beeswax. That's what living in the land of liberty means. We have guidelines for behavior during the national anthem, but they are guidelines, not laws. We are free to follow our own conscience, even if it doesn't line up with someone else's personal expression of patriotism.

Forced patriotism is literally the opposite of the liberty and freedom the flag is supposed to symbolize. Protest is a favorite patriotic pastime, going all the way back to the Boston Tea Party. Kneeling during the anthem to highlight injustices in America may leave a bad taste in some people's mouths, but it's not illegal, it's not hurting anyone, and it's not limiting anyone else's ability to express their patriotism the way they feel like they should.

Taking violent action against a child during the anthem, on the other, hand? That's like a hundred million times worse than kneeling. It's a hundred million times worse than keeping your hat on during the anthem. The irony would be laughable if it weren't so tragic.

Bottom line: Mind your own patriotism and let others mind theirs. And maybe just keep your eyes on the flag so you won't be triggered by Americans exercising their rights around you.

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.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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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.

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