Veteran hopes to keep fans and athletes on their feet with national anthem at Redskins game

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A disabled veteran will sing the national anthem at this weekend’s Washington Redskins game.

“Music is a form of therapy,” he said.

It’s not his first time in the spotlight.

Daniel P. Cortez, who was wounded in Vietnam with the Marines, sang the anthem at a game two years ago. He appeared alongside his son, a senior airman at the time.

“It’s very exhilarating,” said Cortez. “I get a little nervous.”

It is a song that means a great deal to the Stafford man.

“To sing the words, ‘Oh say can you see by the dawn’s early light,’ we’re talking about our great symbol,” he said. “Our flag.”

Cortez’s pride in patriotism stretches back decades. He said he landed in Vietnam on his 19th birthday. He would wounded in 1970.

That’s why when athletes across the country decided to take a knee during the anthem — to protest social injustice and police brutality — it struck a nerve with him.

“Well, it hurt personally because I’m a veteran,” he said.

Cortez said he understands the meaning behind the protest and respects their right, but he found it disrespectful to choose the song as their outlet.

“This is therapy for us. When we perform the national anthem, when we stand for the anthem with our hands over our hearts, it demonstrates the patriotism and therapeutic actions that we need to self soothe,” he said.

Instead, Cortez would like to see the players meeting with leaders, law enforcement or even Congress.

“I’d stand with them,” he said.

Standing up for a cause, he said, to honor the sacrifice so many have given.

Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings begins at 1 p.m.

____

Click here to download the new-and-improved 8News App

Never miss another Facebook post from 8News

Find 8News on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram; send your news tips to iReport8@wric.com.