Trump uses boy's flag-planting project to scold NFL players

Preston Sharp waves from the first lady's box during the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

They could all agree to support 12-year-old Preston Sharp and his project to plant flags on the graves of veterans. But it was a different story when President Donald Trump used that good deed to scold athletes, ahead of the Super Bowl, who kneel during the national anthem.

Members of Congress, the Cabinet, the Supreme Court and assorted guests applauded Trump's shout-out to Preston, who noticed that not every grave was decorated with a flag at the California veterans' cemetery where his grandfather was buried. He started collecting donations and, two years later, had decorated 23,000 graves.

"Preston's reverence for those who have served our nation reminds us why we salute our flag, why we put our hands on our hearts for the pledge of allegiance," Trump said during his speech, drawing applause.

But the mood changed when the president added: "... and why we proudly stand for the national anthem."

GOP lawmakers erupted in applause. Democrats were far more muted.

Trump was a leading critic of NFL players during last fall's protests. Vice President Mike Pence abruptly left an Indianapolis Colts game after almost two dozen members of the San Francisco 49ers knelt during "The Star-Spangled Banner."

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