Two Gold Star parents challenged film director Spike Lee on kneeling for the national anthem during a CNN town hall Wednesday night.
Lee appeared as one of the town hall's panelists, alongside Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, former New York Jets player Michel Faulkner, and Former US Army Green Beret Nate Boyer, who convinced Colin Kaepernick to kneel rather than sit during the National Anthem.
The parents of Staff Sgt. Louis Bonacasa told Lee how they attended a ceremony for Gold Star parents and then went home and saw NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem, calling it a "slap in the face."
"How do you support these multi-millionaires on their knees, and don't support what the fallen heroes died for?" Mr. Bonacasa asked.
Lee said that he was sorry for the Bonacasas' loss, but said that their narrative was "false."
"All these players have said, many many times, that they respect the armed forces," Lee said. "They respect the flag. And they respect America. And this narrative that when they take a knee, it's insulting your son who is no longer here, is not true. They've said that again, and again, and again."
Host Anderson Cooper pointed out to Lee that many find the protest during the national anthem to be disrespectful.
"Well a lot of people thought that what — in the '68 Olympics!" Lee said. "This is why I'm wearing this shirt. John Carlos and Tommie Smith, when they won the Olympics, they put the black fist up. A lot of people thought that was—"
Lee was wearing a shirt depicting Carlos and Smith, two black Olympians who raised their fists in protest on the winners' dais during the 1968 Olympic games in Mexico City.
Bonacasa had a follow-up for Lee.
"When North Korea aims a missile at us, are these football players gonna be on their knees, or are they gonna support our veterans?" he asked.
Lee responded not by answering directly, but by expressing his worry about President Donald Trump.
"Sir, I'm worried just as much about Donald Trump as that crazy guy in North Korea. And he has a nuclear code. I'm worried about that," Lee said.
"We're worried about it too," Bonacasa said.
"Well, we're worrying together then," Lee said.