President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have started the “Official Stand for the Anthem” petition to ask “for a list of supporters who stand for the National Anthem.”
The petition is being paid for by the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a joint fundraising committee authorized by and composed of Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. and the Republican National Committee, according to the petition’s website at GOP.com.
Trump has made standing for the National Anthem a focal point of his presidency in recent weeks, tweeting often about members of the NFL who have taken a knee during the National Anthem to protest racial inequality in the country. Here are his latest tweets on the subject:
Former San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick knelt during the National Anthem in August 2016. Many other players have joined in, including local high school teams, baseball players and German soccer players.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media last year. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Vice President Mike Pence attended an Indianapolis Colts vs. San Francisco 49ers on October 8 and left the game once players took a knee during the National Anthem. About 20 members of the San Francisco 49ers knelt during the national anthem, according to Sports Illustrated.
Pence explained his decision to leave the game on Twitter:
“I left today’s Colts game because President Trump and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem. At a time when so many Americans are inspiring our nation with their courage, resolve, and resilience, now, more than ever, we should rally around our Flag and everything that unites us. While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, I don’t think it’s too much to ask NFL players to respect the Flag and our National Anthem. I stand with President Trump, I stand with our soldiers, and I will always stand for our Flag and our National Anthem.”
Trump later tweeted that he instructed Pence to leave the game if players took a knee during the National Anthem.
Trump dedicated his most recent weekly address to the issue of standing during the National Anthem, particularly for NFL games.
“In 1942, Congress passed the United States Flag Code, creating official standards for how we treat our beloved flag. From this code, we teach each new American generation to always show our flag the respect it deserves,” he said.
“America’s men and women in uniform have carried our flag into battle and given their lives to protect it. Our Star Spangled Banner flew above Fort McHenry in the ‘Dawn’s Early Light.’ Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders carried it to victory at the Battle of San Juan Hill. And our heroic Marines raised it over Iwo Jima” Trump said.
“Every day millions of American citizens raise it, salute it, and honor it on the home front. American workers hang Old Glory above factory floors where they proudly stamp their products “Made in the USA” and more and more products are being so stamped because our economy is starting to boom. We are doing really well. Companies are moving back into the United States and far fewer will be moving out. Believe me. And it’s already happened. American schoolchildren put their hands on their hearts as they recite the Pledge of Allegiance<" he said.