Celebrities have a major platform. It’s time for the rest of us to make our voices heard, too.

Letter edited for clarity and grammar:

I salute the NFL players who continue to stand during the national anthem. I also respect the rights of those who do not.

Athletes have a major platform in this nation, but we are citizens of the same country, and I believe others now must make their voices heard.

I was born and raised in New York. Sept. 11 was the formative experience of my life. It was one of the main reasons I joined the Marines. When I returned from Afghanistan, I attended a Baltimore Ravens game. I underestimated how uncomfortable the crowd would make me. As they prepared for kickoff, I wondered why something I used to love suddenly held no joy for me. Then the national anthem began. All around me I saw hands over hearts, and I began to cry. I thought of my Marines in the middle of our deployment, their bodies breaking but their fighting spirits never wavering. I thought of those we could not bring home and their families.

I don’t question the patriotism of athletes who choose to sit during the anthem. They say they want to start a conversation. Challenge accepted.

James Ferguson; Cockeysville, Md.

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We asked what readers thought of Seahawks’ Michael Bennett, who says Vegas police brutalized him, sitting during anthem. Tweets edited for clarity and grammar:

Any man should have right to express his feelings after that experience. We are supposed to be one people!

—@MADarville

He needs to hire a lawyer. This is why I don’t watch football. That’s what he gets paid for, not his political statements.

—@greglovell21

This is killing the NFL.

—@grohix2

Someone here isn’t telling the truth. As a nation we need to find out which one with an independent review and prosecute.

—@keselowski

Stand for anthem. Also protest via interviews and social media. Cycle of disrespect isn’t helpful.

—@artknapp88

For more of the conversation, follow @USATOpinion or #tellusatoday.

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