Inspired by NFL 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has been celebrated for refusing to stand for the National Anthem, college and high school athletes have followed suit. They contend that they are protesting mistreatment of fellow black Americans by police. Gathering steam, the practice has spread to the military. A sailor serving in the US Navy said in a released a photo and a statement saying that she would not stand for the anthem "until the U.S. proves that they've got my back as a black woman." 
Intelligence Specialist Petty Officer 2nd Class Janaye Ervin post said that she has served in the US Navy Reserve Force since 2008. I” have pledged to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and to spread freedom and democracy around the world. I will never waver from that pledge.” She said that on September 19, while in uniform, she “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. I will gladly stand again, when ALL AMERICANS are afforded the same freedom.”
She claimed that the Navy may “punish” her for “defending the Constitution and has taken away my equipment I need to do my Naval job. It was my pleasure serving my country, I love it dearly, that is why I must do this for you.” Erin is a black American.
Commenters on Ervin’s actions contend that she was in violation of military law requiring uniformed personnel to stand at attention and face the flag while the anthem is played.
According to Navy Regulation 1205, naval personnel in uniform must stand at attention and face the flag when the anthem is played. Active-duty personnel in civilian clothes must face the flag, stand at attention, and place their right hand over their heart. Sailors are also instructed to use social media appropriately and refrain from any posts that would discredit the Navy. They are reminded that such posts can be used against them as evidence. 
According to Navy Regulation 1205, personnel in uniform must stand at attention and face the flag when the national anthem is played. Navy active-duty personnel in civilian clothes will face the flag, stand at attention, and place their right hand over their heart.
Military personnel are not excluded from First Amendment protections, but the Supreme Court has stated that it applies differently to the military. Service members taken an oath to bear true allegiance, which may mean not only standing for the National Anthem but taking on complex missions such as securing a territory on a battlefield with deadly force. Because Ervin took an oath of her own free will, she may be subject to discipline under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). 
A refusal to stand for the national anthem and salute the national flag may be considered political speech, which is prohibited under military regulations. Service members are not allowed, for example, to attend political rallies (for any political party or figure) while in uniform. 
Following the protests made by Ervin and another sailor, the Navy has released new guidelines that outline expectations with respect to honoring the national anthem, both in and out of uniform. 



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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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