When you put on the uniform of a US Navy sailor it’s more than a job; it’s a calling to serve the United States. The US military is an all volunteer force and when you enlist, you are agreeing to abide by the Uniform Code of Military Justice and service traditions. But for Petty Officer 2nd Class Janaye Ervin, an intelligence specialist in the Navy Reserve, a decision she made earlier this month could see her discharged and placed in jail.
Ervin posted to Facebook in early September, “While in uniform, I made the conscious decision to not stand for the Star Spangled Banner because I feel like a hypocrite, singing about ‘land of the free” when, I know that only applies to some Americans.” That post and decision were inspired by 49ers player Colin Kaepernick’s protest to not stand during the playing of the national anthem at NFL games. His decision started a movement across the country as others joined in with the same sentiment. However, in the US Navy things are different when it comes to the playing of the national anthem. The Navy’s protocol handbook says sailors in uniform must salute during the anthem. They must also face the flag, or if a flag is not visible, sailors are required to face the direction of the music. If a sailor does not stand for the national anthem they could face prosecution for failing to obey a lawful general order under Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Ervin has stated that she lost her security clearance and was threatened with jail by the Navy for her actions. Bill Doughty, a spokesman for Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Public Affairs has stated, “Intelligence Specialist 2nd Class Janaye Ervin, a reservist on active duty within U.S. Pacific Fleet, is subject to administrative actions, still under review, for refusing to stand for the national anthem while in uniform Sept. 19.”
It will be up to Ervin’s commanding officer to decide whether or not to prosecute Ervin for her actions. A Change.org petition has garnered a little over one hundred signatures but her Facebook page has gotten several hundred comments. Some of these comments are supportive but a great many of the posts are racist and hateful. Ervin is the second sailor this month who has refused to stand and render honors during the playing of the national anthem.