USA TODAY US Edition

Key’s de­scen­dants split on is­sue

One rel­a­tive of an­them author irked at Kaeper­nick, an­other sup­ports him

- Josh Peter @joshlpeter­11 USA TO­DAY Sports

A di­rect de­scen­dant of Fran­cis Scott Key, who wrote the lyrics to

The Star-Span­gled Ban­ner, said she is heart­bro­ken that Colin Kaeper­nick re­fuses to stand for the an­them as a way to protest so­cial in­jus­tice.

“It just broke my heart to think that some­one that gets so much money for play­ing a ball­game, who is half black, half white, would do this,” said Shirley Ca­role Isham, a great-great-great­grand­daugh­ter of Key and whose ances­try was ver­i­fied by the Daugh­ters of Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion in 1977 when she gained mem­ber­ship to the group. “So many of his black race are op­pressed, but it’s not by the whites, it’s by their own peo­ple. Look who their lead­ers are and the pres­i­dent. Has (Pres­i­dent Obama) done any­thing for these peo­ple?”

Isham, who lives in Longview, Texas, says Kaeper­nick’s con­sti­tu­tional right to protest in the man­ner he has is be­side the point.

“If he’s not go­ing to honor his coun­try and his coun­try­men, he’s dis­hon­or­ing him­self,” she told USA TO­DAY Sports on Wed­nes­day. “This tells you an aw­ful lot about him.”

In March, Isham said, she spent her 80th birth­day at Fort McHenry in Bal­ti­more, where Key wrote the lyrics for what be­came The Star-Span­gled Ban­ner af­ter Key got trapped on a Bri­tish ship dur­ing the War of 1812 be­fore the Amer­i­cans pre­vailed.

“When the bat­tle be­gan, he stayed up on that deck all night long pray­ing that the fort would not fall (to the Bri­tish),” Isham said. “Then at dawn, when all the clouds and the smoke and ev­ery­thing cleared away, he could see our flag fly­ing. And that was the in­spi­ra­tion for the song.

“I cry every time it’s played, be­cause I have so much ad­mi­ra­tion for my grandpa and the na­tional an­them.”

Isham says she has seen footage of Kaeper­nick kneel­ing dur­ing the an­them be­fore the San Fran­cisco 49ers’ last two games, in­clud­ing on Mon­day Night Foot

ball this week, and crit­i­cized his ef­fort to spot­light the op­pres­sion of African Amer­i­cans.

“It’s very painful for me,” Isham said. “It just blows my mind that some­body like (Kaeper­nick) would do what he does to dis­honor the flag of this coun­try and the na­tional an­them when we have young men and women over­seas fight­ing for this coun­try, peo­ple that have died for this coun­try.”

Not all de­scen­dants of Fran­cis Scott Key share Isham’s opin­ion. Suzanne Key Boyle Her­rmann, who said she is a sec­ond cousin of Key, ex­pressed sup­port for Kaeper­nick.

“He had every right to do what he did,” said Her­rmann, 73, a so­cial worker who lives in Mor­ris­town Town­ship, N.J. “And be­cause of what he did, it has sparked con­ver­sa­tion, and con­ver­sa­tion is so healthy in this coun­try to have on the is­sues of equal­ity and rights.”

Her­rmann said she rep­re­sented her fam­ily in 2014 at the 200th an­niver­sary of Key’s writ­ing the na­tional an­them and noted that Key had been a slave owner.

“We as a na­tion, I think since the an­them was writ­ten 202 years ago, have evolved greatly,” Her­rmann said. “But I un­der­stand protest. I un­der­stand how peo­ple feel. We have a lot to think about.”

“If he’s not go­ing to honor his coun­try and his coun­try­men, he’s dis­hon­or­ing him­self.” Shirley Ca­role Isham, de­scen­dant of Fran­cis Scott Key, re­fer­ring to Colin Kaeper­nick’s de­ci­sion to kneel dur­ing the na­tional an­them

 ?? COUR­TESY OF SHIRLEY CA­ROLE ISHAM ?? Shirley Ca­role Isham, with a statue of na­tional an­them author Fran­cis Scott Key, an an­ces­tor, says Colin Kaeper­nick is wrong.
COUR­TESY OF SHIRLEY CA­ROLE ISHAM Shirley Ca­role Isham, with a statue of na­tional an­them author Fran­cis Scott Key, an an­ces­tor, says Colin Kaeper­nick is wrong.
 ?? KEL­LEY L. COX, USA TO­DAY SPORTS ?? Kaeper­nick says he’s op­pos­ing op­pres­sion of mi­nori­ties.
KEL­LEY L. COX, USA TO­DAY SPORTS Kaeper­nick says he’s op­pos­ing op­pres­sion of mi­nori­ties.

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