This weekend, many NFL athletes, coaches and owners chose to stand, sit, kneel or not even showing up during the singing of the National Anthem.
The move has inspired many passionate responses from fans, especially military veterans.
Bryan Dodson of Berthoud served in the Army for seven years before being medically discharged with a purple heart.
His service included two deployments in Iraq.
“When I was deployed to Iraq, we saw some of the worst living conditions anybody could live in,” Dodson said. “I ended up losing a soldier during that deployment. It was kind of hard. It was one of those where I was supposed to be in his spot that day. I had to work on a vehicle, so he took my spot.”
Dodson says his mental health suffered as a result of his tours in Iraq. He was also injured in an explosion.
“I still won’t go to sporting events,” Dodson said. “It’s very hard for me to go to sporting events. I can go, but it’s not relaxing and fun like it is for most people. I’m constantly on guard, watchful. I feel as if I have to protect my family at all times.”
Dodson credits his wife and five kids for helping him cope with his many mental and physical challenges.
He also takes a host of prescription drugs.
“I got meds after meds over there and it’s still – it’s not the cure-all,” Dodson said. “I can be fine one minute and the next minute I don’t even know what’s going on and I’m ticked off at everything.”
As a proud military veteran, Dodson says he would rather see NFL players stand during the National Anthem. However, he says he fought for their right not to stand.
“I’m pretty fortunate, I would say,” Dodson said. “I don’t face inequalities. I don’t face oppression. I don’t face any of that stuff. And America’s not going to get changed by keeping the division and not seeing the other person’s point of view. Just because my opinion is not the same as yours, doesn’t make mine right and yours wrong. What I would like to see and what I would challenge, is for every single NFL player and every single coach on that field to lock hands, stand united and show the strength that this country really stands on.”
Dodson is currently a student at Colorado State University where he’s studying applied computer technology.