So far as we know, no NFL players spat on or burned the flag this weekend. They didn't drag it on the ground or tear it apart. When the national anthem was performed before games, they did not turn their backs or talk or make rude gestures. Some linked arms in a show of unity; others knelt, an act that connotes respect, piety and humility. In what is normally a rote ceremony before the start of a game, the players, whether they stood, rested on a bent knee or stayed in the locker room, displayed solemnity and mindfulness. Kneeling is not the protocol outlined in the U.S. Flag Code — an unenforceable statute that says all should face the flag while the anthem plays, with hands over hearts or, in the case of the military, in salute — but it nonetheless suggested a commitment to fostering the freedom and justice that is America's promise. It is now up to all those who took part to ensure this protest achieves its highest purpose.