A Virginia Tech basketball coach noticed that some of his players were sitting for the national anthem, and set them straight in an unforgettable speech (video below).
Coach Buzz Williams’ speech about the importance of the anthem quickly went viral after it was originally shared, showing an incredibly important and moving perspective on what it means to be an American and salute the flag.
“We didn’t earn those chairs,” Williams tells his players, pointing to the bench.
Your talent didn’t earn those chairs. How tall you are and how fast you run, how well you shoot, didn’t earn those chairs. Me drawing up a play, me recruiting real hard, me working real hard, I didn’t earn the chair. These guys, when they were your age, interrupted their life. They paused their education. They changed their career. And they gave their life for those chairs. Do you guys understand what I’m saying? Not us, not us. And so when the anthem is played, we’re going to stand like grown men, and we’re going to honor men like this that gave their life so we can have a chair to sit in.
Williams then instructs the players to not only stand for the anthem, but also pay attention to what they are saluting and not take for granted the freedoms they have as Americans.
“And then the two-and-a-half minutes that the song is played, or somebody sings it, we’re going to stand at attention and honor these men. We’re not going to sway back and forth. We’re not messing with our shorts, we’re not messing with our jersey,” he said.
“Those two-and-a-half minutes, we’re going to give to the people who earned these chairs, because that freedom allows us to do what we’re doing.”
Williams’ speech garnered applause from people who felt it was the right way to address the controversy surrounding the national anthem.
“I don't know the name of this coach, he is a man of [honor]. He brought me to tears, by what he said to these young men. He didn't yell he didn't shame them, he taught them that behind this anthem there are real men and women who have given so such for them and their country,” one reader commented on AWM.
“This lesson will stay with them for a lifetime, and just maybe they will think before they disrespect a service person ever again. Thank you sir.”
According to The Washington Post, Williams does this every season, simply to teach respect for those who "earned the chairs." He said this is not in response to any anthem protests that may or may not be happening in the world.