COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - When Stephen Martin, the owner of Prime Time Sports in Colorado Springs, Colorado, heard about Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall's refusal to stand for the national anthem in protest of racial inequality in the United States, he immediately canceled the football player's scheduled appearance and autograph signing at his store.
"We scheduled Brandon Marshall's autograph signing two months before the controversy happened during the football game," said Martin. "After Thursday night's opening game I decided to cancel this event and soon after my store phones and social media pages were lit up with the kind of words that no business owner ever wants to here. I got mushy and angry at the same time. There was overwhelming support honoring our flag and standing for our national anthem."
"I asked myself, how do I stand up for this cause? What am I going to do, so I came up with the photo idea 'Honor the Flag'."
That's when Martin took to Facebook as a plea and the idea of honoring the Flag and veterans.
"If you are in agreement with me, then send me your photographs of your loved ones that are veterans, in active service who have been injured in the line of duty or who have paid the ultimate price."
"I woke and up and stood up. Why am I being silent? Nobody is speaking up for the veterans that gave us our freedoms. Of course, Brandon Marshall has a message to share, but what is the appropriate way of sharing that message?"
A sign posted in the middle of the store window proudly reads:
"This space is reserved for these people who have sacrificed for our flag and what it represents: WE HONOR THEM."
"Our voice, the voice of the active, the injured and the fallen is being heard. Thank You America," Martin wrote on his Facebook page.
Martin said that his cause is not about the store, himself or Brandon Marshall, "it's about honoring those military veterans who have given us this freedom to express ourselves."
November is Salute to Service month with the NFL and Veteran's Day is November 11th. Martin is hoping to get a color guard at the store and have them sing the National Anthem before taking down the window display.
"I want both our voices to be heard," said Martin.
Currently, Martin has received over 680 photographs and received an additional 300 photos overnight. Photos can be brought in or mailed to Prime Time Sports, 1710 Briargate Blvd, Colorado Springs, CO 80920 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.