War on Patriotism?

If you have been on social media at all this past week, I have no doubt that you have seen people’s opinions on the concept of not standing during the national anthem. This conversation was triggered by Colin Kaepernick’s (San Francisco’s 49ers quarterback) sitting demonstration before a game. He claimed that he refuses to stand in an act of protest for what he believes to be wrongdoings against the black community and other minorities in our country.

Recently, Kaepernick was joined in a kneeling protest with safety Eric Reid. The crowd’s reaction was of ridicule and booing, but these two men remained kneeling and silent.

I have personally seen a lot of posts about how people have “lost respect” for both Kaepernick and Reid, and I have also seen several (and I mean several) posts/memes about the military because of this. You know the ones: “They’re dying for that flag/anthem, and you can’t even stand in honor/respect for it??”

I’m sorry, but puh-lease.

Our men and women aren’t in the military to defend a song or cloth; they’re serving our country to defend our rights and liberties as Americans, and one of those privileges includes the Freedom of Speech. If it was truly mandatory to stand during the national anthem, then how is that freedom? How is that true patriotism? It’s not. And, frankly, our men and women are fighting for Kaepernick’s (and Reid’s) right to silently protest.

Yep. I said it. 

I can’t pin-point exactly when the people of America became whiny little brats, but I’m officially calling us out. We are so quick to judge riots and protests when there is a disturbance of peace. Yes, to some extent, we are entitled to those judgements: we are allowed to believe that there are better ways to get a point across. What about a peaceful protest? What about – Oh, I don’t know… A protest that only involves staying quiet and sitting/kneeling? Do you think the general public could handle that? Of course not.

I’m from a military background. My dad retired from the USAF roughly two years ago and my younger brother just finished his second year in May. I get it. I can see how it can be a little offensive, and I definitely understand why some people disagree with the idea of “disrespecting” our flag (and therefore our country) like that. But, if this is worth you getting upset over, don’t only get upset about this. Why is it that the same people that are so quick to get mad at football players for being disrespectful and unpatriotic towards symbols of our country are also the same people that have been making mean (there’s really not a better word to describe it) posts about our current president for the last eight years? Isn’t that disrespectful of our country, too? Isn’t it completely unpatriotic to constantly ridicule the Commander-in-Chief of the United States?

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a political post. I’m not claiming to be an Obama fan. In fact, I can promise you that I have also posted negative things about him in the past. However, I respect the guy and his family, despite what others may think about that. I’m entitled to my opinion. That’s a right that I have.

Kaepernick and Reid are not stomping on the American flag. They aren’t yelling in the middle of the national anthem. They aren’t doing anything inappropriate during this time of honor for what others believe and want to express. When there is a moment of silence at public functions, people are allowed to not pray during that time, and yet they are respectful of those that want to.

I’m not a huge fan of sports (especially football), but I have been to enough of my brother’s baseball games to recognize that the players tend to kneel when somebody on their team (or opposing team) has gotten injured in some way. It’s a sign of respect. I honestly appreciate that Kaepernick and Reid kneeled, for it shows that they still respect our country even though they aren’t proud of it right now. Blame the English Major in me, but I see the symbolism.

Kaepernick even said, “As [he and Reid] talked about [sitting], [they] came up with taking a knee, because there are issues that still need to be addressed. And it was also a way to try to show more respect to the men and women that fight for this country.”

Is there a War on Patriotism? Yes. But it’s a war on the rights of Americans and those that try to express peaceful protest. Whether the person is a kid in the ghetto or a famous athlete, their concerns deserved to be considered. We are so used to dividing ourselves, and it has gotten out of hand. It’s time to get off our high horses and actually address the problems.

I stand with… *ahem* kneel with… Kaepernick and Reid.


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