SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A San Diego veteran and father is defending his son's right to sit during the national anthem.
Ray Everett is responding to a letter sent to Lincoln High School's principal, complaining that students on the basketball team were sitting and talking during the national anthem.
The man who wrote the letter is a U.S. Air Force veteran and grandfather to a player on the opposing team. Another parent who was offended used her phone to film the students sitting.
"At the end of the day our students do not have to stand," said Everett. "But you will not make them feel like they did something wrong. They did not harm anyone and they did not break the law."
Everett was in the U.S. Army for 15 years. He says he served his country in order to protect the rights of Americans, including the right to sit during the national anthem.
Everett's brother-in-law, Antoine Jarvis, says while he was offended by the letter he respects everyone's right to their own opinion.
"I think that the biggest challenge in voicing your opinion is when you're close-minded to other's opinions," said Jarvis. "When you're close-minded to their beliefs."
Jarvis says he no longer stands during the national anthem after learning more about its history. He only asks that others respect his right to do so.
The principal of Lincoln High School, a veteran himself, has been responsive to complaints and plans to sit down with the veteran who wrote the letter about the student's actions.
On Thursday the San Diego Unified School District released a statement:
Public school districts do not have the authority to require students to observe patriotic or religious rituals in the classroom or at school functions. We believe in our students right to free-speech, but also encourage students to be respectful in the way they choose to exercise their rights.
School Administration is reaching out to the students involved and taking the opportunity to use this as a teachable moment.