Small town Indiana talks about NFL demonstrations

Protesting the National Anthem
Varied perspectives on NFL protests
Published:
Updated:

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - It is not the first time politics has violated the sanctity of sport and it won't be the last. From John Carlos in 1968, to Collin Kaepernick in 2017.

It has our attention again. So what happens next?

If you drive into Whiteland off of I-65 on East Main Street, it won't take you long to notice the road is lined with flags all the way into town.

"We are like the Mayberry of the Midwest," Lester Robertson said.

He has two flags outside his house and who can blame him? His son served in Iraq.

"You don't disrespect the flag or the Constitution," he declared.

That is why what happened at NFL stadiums, including Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday, hurt so deeply.

"It really irks me when I see those people standing, kneeling at the national anthem. They might as well turn their back on the flag and show their cowardice, because they will not pick up a gun and go to a foreign country and put their life on the line. If the players want to boycott their game, not get paid for it, hold a sign outside Lucas Oil Stadium, feel free to do that, but don’t trample on the flag and what it stands for," he explained.

A flag also flies above Donnie Wheaton as well as he receives a wedding gift from his new bride, Marcie. A brick with his name on it to honor his service during Desert Storm being placed at the base of the Soldier and Sailors Monument on the Circle.

"I do feel humbled in the company of such heroes of WWII and Korean War," Wheaton said.

His name will join 2,000 others, while 200,000 bricks are still waiting to honor more Hoosier veterans. He sees this fight differently.

"I believe Collin Kaepernick is exercising his right to free speech. That is what we fought for. You don't have to agree with the speech, that is not necessary, but he is exercising his right to free speech, what he believes in. That is his right and that is why these people fought and died for that," he said, looking down at the names that are already displayed on the bricks at his feet.

So he was not offended by what he saw Sunday.

"We are not in a country where we can't do it. In some countries, you are put to death, but that is not the case here in America. He can express...they can express their right to free speech," he concluded.

We are all used to picking sides in politics and sport. We just don't like it when the two sides collide.

Filed under: