Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett sat during the national anthem Sunday, as he has done previously.
But instead of inflaming or disrespecting veterans, he moved one service member to share his story and a memento from his time in combat.
Via Brady Henderson of ESPN.com, Bennett said he was touched by the support he received from a Vietnam veteran after yesterday’s win over the 49ers. He said the man gave him a coin representing his unit after they spoke.
“He lost half his battalion. He was telling me about the POWs and the people missing in action. He gave that to me, says he loves everything I stand for,” Bennett said, showing reporters the coin. “That’s just an honor to be able to get something like that. That’s a big deal.”
The past two weeks, Bennett has stood during the anthem, but he has been a regular among players protesting racial inequality and police brutality during the anthem. And next week, he’s going to use his customizable cleat option to honor families of POWs and MIA soldiers. After watching a recent PBS documentary on Vietnam, Bennett said he thinks it’s important to support those who come home dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“The last couple weeks we wanted to honor the military and everybody, so that was really good,” Bennett said. “So to be able to shine a light on some of the issues that are going on within the military or from after [war] is something I think as Americans we should definitely bring up. As much as we love everything they do, we should love everything that they’re going through too. So just to be able to support them. It was an honor for me to get that [coin].”
Not everyone shares the view of that veteran, but not everyone has listened to Bennett and others who have explained many times the reasons they sit or kneel.