Putnam Executive Will Lead Anthem

Orders U.S. flags installed in Carmel

In response to a number of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem before games on Sept. 24 in what they said was a protest against police brutality and racial injustice, Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell has ordered the county’s Row of Honor installed along Lake Gleneida in Carmel. She will lead the anthem in a ceremony on Sunday, Oct. 1, at 10 a.m., at Cornerstone Park, 1 Fair St., in Carmel.

The Row of Honor (Photo provided)

“This isn’t about race, this is about respect,” said Odell in a statement. “This is about honoring and standing in unity with all those who have sacrificed themselves to protect the safety of others.” She also said that “standing during the National Anthem is not about anything political.”

A logo created for the event

In a statement, Odell cited Alejandro Villanueva, a West Point graduate who is a tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He appeared alone before the team’s Sept. 24 game for the anthem while the rest of the team remained in the tunnel. Villanueva, a former Army Ranger who served three tours in Afghanistan, later said he meant to remain with his teammates but in sight of the flag. The team decided to remain in the tunnel because it was divided on whether to kneel or stand.

Villanueva said he would always stand for the anthem, but of his teammates who wanted to kneel, added: “I take no offense. I don’t think veterans at the end of the day take any offense. They actually signed up and fought so that somebody could take a knee and protest peacefully whatever it is that their hearts desire.”

Karl Rohde, director of the county’s Veteran Service Agency, took a different view, saying in a statement that kneeling during the anthem as “vile” as burning an American flag, saying that the U.S. Supreme Court “got it wrong” when it ruled that act was protected by the First Amendment.

4 Responses to "Putnam Executive Will Lead Anthem"

  1. Kurt O'Hare   October 10, 2017 at 10:07 am

    As an elected official, Ms. Odell took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, period. Upholding means, among other terms, “maintain, sustain, continue, preserve, protect, champion, defend,” and she has let us all down. It doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with kneeling during the National Anthem as an appropriate form of protest. Ms. Odell took an Oath of Office to protect all our freedoms and laws, including free speech. What the protesters are doing by kneeling during the National Anthem is constitutionally protected and legal, but what our County Executive has done is take an official position and spent county funds in support of violating our laws and the U.S. or New York constitutions. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, and to voice those opinions, but elected officials need to take the high ground and defend our freedoms, without exception, diminishment or qualification.

  2. Michael Armstrong   October 10, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    Although likely unintentional, it is still unfortunate that County Executive Odell’s chosen slogan for her event, “Stand Up for America,” was the same slogan George C. Wallace, the notorious racist and segregationist, campaigned under when he ran for President in 1968.

  3. Patty Villanova   October 11, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    There’s an old saying that comes to mind whenever I see these local politicians virtue signaling: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

  4. Ann Fanizzi   October 14, 2017 at 6:55 am

    Am waiting for a reporter to connect the political dots between Odell and the sheriff, besides both hypocritically wrapping themselves in the flag that they both have shredded.