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Las Vegas Air Force Veteran and Father of Multi-Racial Children Says Kneeling Players Not Disrespect

Four Dallas and Vegas players took a knee before Monday's postseason game in Edmonton. Photo from Dallas Stars Twitter.

(Publisher’s Note: Ryan Reaves and Robin Lehner of the Vegas Golden Knights and Tyler Seguin and Jason Dickinson of the Dallas Stars took a knee during the national anthems before the Vegas-Dallas postseason game Monday. Well-known Golden Knights superfan Jason Griego, 46, of Las Vegas, a 24-year Air Force veteran, wrote this commentary for LVSportsBiz.com in response to the four NHL players taking a knee.)

By Jason Griego for LVSportsBiz.com

How do you place the gesture of kneeling during yesterday’s national anthems before the Vegas Golden Knights game into a box of either right or wrong or disrespectful or not?

The true meanings and reasons are different for everyone and each individual’s experiences influence those feelings.

Everyone’s opinion can be drastically different. Because of those differences, I can only humbly give my thoughts from the view point of a combat veteran who is also the father of multi-racial children.

I am sick of this becoming a political issue when it is basic human rights.

Jason Griego (left) talks with two VGK fans before Knights game in March before coronavirus pandemic paused NHL season. (Photo credit: Tyge O’Donnell/LVSportsBiz.com)

While I personally will only stand and salute when appropriate or place my hand over my heart during the national anthem, I don’t find the gesture of kneeling as being directly disrespectful towards the military.

All military members took an oath to defend the constitution of the United States and all the rights afforded to our citizens- not simply the flag.

I understand the fight that the players were expressing yesterday and that they are using that moment to highlight that racial equality is not where it needs to be in our society.

We need to be better humans with compassion and an open mind to understand that there’s more work to be done.

I’ve had many close military friends with an American flag draped over the tops their coffins so I don’t take this topic lightly. I was proud to use this as a talking point with my kids and hope it inspires other conversations and learning opportunities all over our country.

I ultimately hope that the players who now have the attention of the NHL and its fans take this opportunity to follow up and make a meaningful and legitimate community impact to help create positive change.

Jason Griego served  24 years in the Air Force flying as a Loadmaster on C-130 and C-17 aircraft. His first combat missions were in 1995 during the Bosnia and Yugoslavia wars with four additional deployments in Iraq and three in Afghanistan. Griego, 46, of Las Vegas, is the founder and president of community outreach for the Vegas Veterans Hockey Foundation. Griego is also on the board of directors of the Warrior Suicide Prevention Foundation. Griego and his wife, Beth, have adopted all four of their children from the Nevada Department of Family Services.

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