Alejandro Villaneuva plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers NFL team. He's also a West Point Military Academy graduate and a former Army Ranger. He served three tours of duty in Afghanistan. Part of Villanueva's time in the military brought him to Hunter Army Airfield. If you ever saw him around town, you'd probably remember it...he's 6 feet 9 inches tall!!!
Villanueva was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor for rescuing enemy soldiers while under fire.
When the rest of Villanueva's team stayed in the locker room to stay out of the political fray when it was time for the National Anthem at yesterday's game, Villanueva left the others and stood - hand over heart - near the edge of the field to pay tribute to the flag and to this country.
When it comes to NFL flag protests, he had this to say last year: “I don’t know if the most effective way is to sit down during the national anthem with a country that’s providing you freedom, providing you $16 million a year … when there are black minorities that are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan for less than $20,000 a year.”
“I will be the first one to hold hands with Colin Kaepernick and do something about the way minorities are being treated in the United States, the injustice that is happening with police brutality, the justice system, inequalities in pay. You can’t do it by looking away from the people that are trying to protect our freedom and our country.”
You can read more about Villanueva HERE.
My respect for the American Flag and what it represents grew exponentially when I saw THE Star Spangled Banner on display at the Smithsonian Museum of American History. It's such a huge flag! I also read everything written on display about the flag and the War of 1812. I wish every American could walk through this exhibit! While I realize it's free, I know not everybody can get to Washington , D.C. That's why I'm posting a link to the interactive and informative portion of the Smithsonian website that's dedicated to the Star Spangled Banner. It's the closest I can get you to the real exhibit and I think it's important for folks to read and see. Click HERE to check it out!
This remains my favorite version of the National Anthem:
...and then there's the very nice version sung by Georgia Southern alum and country music superstar, Luke Bryan: