Thousands Of Saluting Veterans Will Ring Colin Kaepernick’s Next National Anthem Protest

Ted Goodman | Reporter

Thousands of saluting veterans, including hundreds of active duty military personnel on the actual field, will witness Colin Kaepernick’s next National Anthem protest in San Diego Thursday night.

The Chargers are hosting their “28th Annual Salute to the Military” Thursday Night, which just so happens to coincide with Colin Kaepernick’s first game since igniting a firestorm of criticism after sitting during the National Anthem last Friday night. While it’s just a pre-season game, Colin Kaepernick has taken the event to a level that transcends sports by his actions last Friday night.

The Chargers will feature live music presented by the Marine Corps band before the game, as well as a military parachute team that will land into the stadium before kick-off. The National Anthem will be performed by Petty Officer 1st Class Steven Powell from the U.S. Navy, and 240 sailors, marines and soldiers will present a U.S. super flag, which will stretch across the field while the Anthem is played.

Qualcomm Stadium may be one of the most hostile environments for Kaepernick to make his point, due to all of the military personnel expected to be in attendance. When asked if he was fearful for his safety, Kaepernick stated; “No, because if something happened, you’d be proving my point.” The 49ers and the NFL declined to comment on any additional plans to provide security at the game.

The San Diego Chargers have a special relationship with the military due to their location to so many active-duty military personnel. San Diego is home to the nation’s largest concentration of military personnel. There are 7 bases and more than 100,000 active duty military personnel in San Diego, and over 240,000 veterans call the city home.

49ers coach Chip Kelly announced that Kaepernick would play on Thursday, but did not indicate if he would be the starter. Football experts predict that Kaepernick will see a lot of playing time since he has been recovering from injury and the coaches need to evaluate his abilities.

The game is set to be played at 10:00 p.m. ET on Thursday Night (7 p.m. local), but all eyes will be on Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers sideline a few minutes before kickoff. While the National Anthem is not usually a part of football television broadcasts, unless it’s a special occasion, the sports director for KPIX channel 5 (which will carry the pre-season game) said that the National Anthem will be part of the telecast on the local broadcast.

While the fourth and final pre-season game is largely ignored as fans prepare for the regular season to begin, expect to see a lot of passion from the fan base in San Diego on Thursday night. It is safe to say that the boo-birds will be out when Kaepernick takes the field.

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