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Inside the Story: Reno father hopes protesting football players see his point of view

Rich Crombie of Reno kneels at the grave of his son David, who was killed in combat in Iraq (Photo courtesy Rich Crombie)

When he first sat down during the national anthem, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick said he was actually standing up to what he sees as social and racial injustice in this country. Sitting turned to kneeling, and other NFL players soon followed Kaepernick's lead.

It's turned the start of the NFL season into a political firestorm. The act sparked outrage, boycotts and heated conversation about how the National Anthem plays into this racial divide.

Reno father Rich Crombie posted his own thoughts on the debate with a picture of himself taking a knee.

He wasn’t at a football game. He was at Arlington National Cemetery in front of the gravestone of his first-born son.

“He was a good kid, he knew what he was getting into. He volunteered for that purpose. Knew he was going overseas, knew he was going to Iraq,” explains Crombie.

After just a few weeks in Iraq, 19-year-old David Nicholas Crombie was killed by a roadside bomb in Ramadi.

Though his life was turned upside down by the tragedy, Rich Crombie's patriotism never wavered.

In his Facebook post, Crombie tells protesting NFL players, “If you're going to take a knee in front of the American flag, try doing it from my vantage point.”

“You've got fame, wealth and notoriety. You can do so much good towards your cause versus shaming the American flag,” Says Crombie.

This week, Rich's son would have turned 30 years old. He marked the occasion by walking seven miles from his home in south Reno to his son's memorial site downtown. He carried the American flag and the heavy emotion of his son's death the entire way.

As far as the NFL players taking a knee in protest of a less than perfect country, this veteran and father of a fallen soldier will continue to stand proud. He just wonders when the players will once again stand with him.

He says, “There's always going to be some sort of racism in the world. It's never going to be completely free; that's just the way life is. So at some point, he's got to stand up. But when is that?

"Maybe he never stands up, and that's his message from here on out. I just think it's the wrong message at the wrong time.”

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